As far as I know, no one hates me, and I’m not so sure that’s a good thing. I can claim to having caused mild irritation, since I’ve had my share of blogger attacks. One, in fact, compared me to an unidentified member of the Three Stooges (I vote for Moe). But I wouldn’t call their responses hate—more like what one feels for a shirt collar that won’t stay down.
But when I look at the life of Christ, there’s one thing I definitely don’t see: tepid responses. You don’t read about how the Pharisees were mildly annoyed with Jesus as He journeyed through Judea. You don’t see how the crowd got together and rolled their eyes at Jesus. You don’t hear the story of Jesus being the focus of a slightly mocking lampoon during the Passover celebration.
No, a funny thing happened on the way to the truth. People got mad—really mad. Jesus sometimes directly attacked the Pharisees for their hypocrisy and flipped over tables and delivered woes, but most of the animosity He generated came from teaching about God and healing people. He’d make a crippled hand whole or forgive somebody or tell people who He was, and crowds wanted Him dead.
When was the last time someone hated you for speaking the truth? I can’t recall any time that someone tried to stop me because they detested God, the same God they saw in my life and heard in my words.
I’m not advocating that Christians go out and pick fights or flame Internet message boards or any other sort of confrontational action. There’s no need. If we’re telling the truth, some people will hate it and hate us. When the Word is preached, the rancor is sure to follow. It’s inevitable: Preach the word; get the haters.
But where are mine? As an American Christian, I’m more likely to boycott and petition and rail against perceived injustices than see a single personal threat. I get riled up by thinking there’s a “they” out there trying to take away my freedom—even if I have no clear idea who those “they” are.
It’s not that I want people to persecute me. The thought scares me, to be honest. But if Jesus said we’re blessed when others revile us, when they persecute us and say false things about us because of our witness, then I wonder how effective my witness really is when the most I can say is that I’ve irked an atheist or two. Can I rejoice and be glad because of a single, vague epithet?