“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’” John 15:18-25

“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10:21-22

More and more I’m seeing headlines about someone in America being sued or fired because of their faith in Christ. This is of course just a small taste of the persecution Christians and Jews are facing around the world.

And every time I see one of those headlines I’m as surprised and disgusted as anybody. But we can’t be; we must expect it. Persecution is increasing, and we need to prepare ourselves that we may one day see it knock on our own door. Jesus warned the apostles and He warns us now: we will be hated.

The word for hated in these verses means to detest, especially to persecute. This is not your run of the mill kind of hatred. It’s not just a feeling. This is hatred that is so vile and deep that it moves the person to act on their hatred, to systematically and methodically harm a person or group.

What I find interesting is that this is the complete opposite of compassion, which is to be so deeply filled with sympathy that it moves a person to action. Regardless of how much Christ was hated, He consistently demonstrated compassion His whole life. He’s our example of how to live a holy life in the face of persecution.

The Spirit enables us, we just need to decide if we’re willing. Let God take care of the persecutors, we must be faithful to Christ, to pray and to live holy and upright lives, not giving the enemy a foothold.

Jesus makes a point to remind us though, that all this is not without the hope of our promised salvation and reward.

In the meantime, we can pray to have the same attitude as the apostles who were arrested and jailed by the high priest and the Sanhedrin – people who claimed to know God and should have believed in His Son alongside the apostles – for teaching and healing in the name of Christ.

The apostles were flogged, ordered not to speak in the name of Jesus (which they promptly disobeyed) and let go. And Acts 5:41-42 says “The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.”

Rejoicing because they had been counted to worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. From our own perspective it’s an awful thing to suffer persecution, but from a spiritual standpoint, the apostles saw it as a badge of honor. It meant they were living their lives for Christ in such a way that they suffered as their Lord had said they would. It meant the Spirit was moving, lives were being changed, souls were being convicted…and the enemy was not happy.

But I’d give anything to see the smile on Jesus’s face as He watched them fulfill what He called them to do.

In His great grace,