Christian, do you want to be like Jesus? Does your church want to be a representation of the body of Christ in your community? Do you want to live out the word, Christian, which means a little imitation of Christ? If so, it will hurt.
John 7:7 – The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.
Jesus, speaking to his half-brothers, makes a very simple, very telling statement. The world will not hate those men, as they are just like the world. But the world will hate Jesus. Why will the world hate Jesus? Jesus testifies that the deeds of the world are evil in the sight of God. And that testimony garners the hatred of the world.
So, do you really want to be like Jesus? If so, the world will hate you too. We can’t tone that down and tell the truth. Social popularity is not our destination until the Lord returns and all is made right under the rule of Christ.
Now, a quick disclaimer: This does not mean that you should go out and do hateful things. Nor does this mean that you should be a mean-spirited person. Jesus never did such things. Jesus did not walk around with a chip on his shoulder just trying to find a way to offend the world. He came expressing the love of God even as he upheld God’s standards in all things. Jesus was pro marriage. Jesus was anti sexual immorality. Jesus was anti drunkenness. Jesus was not open to a variety of world religions. Jesus taught that there is only one way to God, through him. Jesus was clear that faith and repentance are how we get under his grace.
Jesus was never mean, but he was hated. His message, the word of God, is hated by a world that will not surrender to that word. The world around us does not want the God of the Bible. The world around us does not wish to be bound by the morality defined by the Creator. And so the world around us will hate what speaks of their deeds as evil in the sight of God.
We need to be a kind and gracious people. But we need to not be so deluded as to think that the world is going to think we are just a great part of their society. Yes, the world will receive charity from the church. They will generally like it when we build hospitals, feed the homeless, and help clean up the park. But, understand, they will love us until, and only until, we speak the true message of the Lord. The moment that our message and the morality of the Lord goes up against the new morality of this culture, they will turn on the people they smiled at when we did our random acts of kindness.
Am I saying not to be kind or not to engage the community? No. But I am saying not to be deceived. In the end, the word of God is divisive. In the end, Jesus is exclusive. In the end, the message of Christ will offend our world just like it did when the world shouted, “Hosanna!” on Sunday and, “Crucify him!” on Friday.