In an Australian accent, those were the words said to me across a table at a coffee shop where I lived in Glasgow, Scotland. It was 2001 and I had been living there surrounded by a culture of those who didn’t know Christ.
What did I do to make this guy hate me? I was casual friends with this person and had no serious interaction with him previous to this. But there was something I apparently did wrong.
Or did I do something right?
I tend to avoid conflict and be a harmonizer whenever possible. So when I heard the words “hate” and “you” in the same sentence directed at me, it definitely hurt. I am led to believe a lie that just because I have gotten on my knees to accept Christ, things will be easier. Life has only gotten harder but my faith and peace in Christ has grown stronger.
I was reminded this morning when reading Jesus’ words in John 15: 20 “….If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” Persecution should be expected. After all, the early church was hated by the world because they didn’t understand the truth. Most of this hate surrounded by the fear of the unknown. It was good, though.
Most of the conflict I encounter today is with other Christians. The themes around that conflict is usually about pride. I bet if someone who doesn’t know Christ would observe the way we act, he or she would have every right to say “I hate you.” But you know what? That person is probably not caring because we as Christians become irrelevant when we fight amongst ourselves.
There are so many people fighting for their faith in this world. They are being persecuted. They risk their life just to have the chance to read the Bible. We as followers of Christ should be causing the right kind of stir that causes people to stand up and say, “I want that.”
The goal isn’t to go out and try to get people hating you. It is about being bold in your faith fearlessly sharing the Gospel. This happens by earning the right to be heard and letting the truth speak.
Being hated by this guy woke me up. It reminded me that if I’m not causing a stir then I’m not quite living out the true Gospel.
May you cause a stir with me.
Updated from December 28, 2011
For years this moment kind of haunted me, mainly because I didn’t understand it completely. Today, God reminded me of why we as Christians are here.
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.
Preceding these verses is this line from Christ himself in John 15:17,
This is my command: Love each other.