Does the World Hate Us?

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 the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is 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. (John 15:18–21)

The Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard once said, "If everyone is a Christian, then no one is a Christian." The Christianity of the first century was a "counter-culture" that existed as opposed to and opposed by the existing world and its power structures. Jesus disciples were called to be "in the world but not of the world." Christianity in its original form did not fit seamlessly into the culture of the day. Jesus warned the apostles that they would not be treated by the world any better than he had been treated—they opposed Jesus, so they would oppose the disciples of Jesus. We see that coming true in the book of Acts. The same power structures that went after Jesus also went after Peter, Paul and the rest of the church.

Is there a war against Christianity today? Well, there was a story today in the news about a public campaign in Chicago sponsored by "The Freedom from Religion Foundation" that mocks people of faith. The group has taken out ads on the sides of city buses to say things like “Sleep in on Sundays.” Other signs feature quotes from atheist Richard Dawkins (author of The God Myth), "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction.” (I might suggest to Dr. Dawkins, “You don’t want to tick off the God of the New Testament either.”). Would I find it annoying to read signs like that on a city bus? Sure. But that’s not really the persecution that Jesus warns us about here in John 15 or that Paul describes in 2 Corinthians 11:22-29.

Have Christians gotten a little spoiled? Do we really believe we have the right to exercise our religion without fear of molestation by our culture or our government? Jesus didn't have that right. Neither did Paul. Neither do we. Maybe the reason we haven’t been really persecuted because of our faith is because we have allowed our faith to fit too snuggly within the culture around us. Maybe the reason the world doesn't hate us is that we seem to belong to the world rather than to Christ.