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Hated by the World

John frames his observation in terms of not being surprised at the hate we encounter.

“Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13, NKJV) 

We hear a lot nowadays about Christians being filled with hate, often because we do not go with the flow over social issues of the day espousing positions contrary to the teaching of the Bible. Ironically, Christians become objects of hate themselves, persecuted, mocked, and reviled. A world that preaches tolerance shows itself tolerant only those who fall in line, and decidedly intolerant of those who know and serve the living God. 

Earlier when John instructed us not to love the world or the things of the world (2:15), he was urging us to make God our point of reference, listening to Him, following Him rather than a world that is in rebellion against Him. That’s one reason the world hates us, because it hates God and seeks to throw off the shackles of His rule. 

John tells us, “Do not marvel, my brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). Our Lord Jesus gave us a heads up to this animosity. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18). We are hated because God is hated. 

John frames his observation in terms of not being surprised at the hate we encounter. We can grasp what he is saying by looking at the way people treated Jesus. Here was a man who did only good, who taught only truth, who poured out His life for the welfare of others. Yet He was reviled, rejected, and executed for no reason other than they hated Him. 

Their treatment of Him made no sense, that is, until we factor in the spiritual conflict and antagonism at the heart of the matter. We live as light in a world of darkness. John expresses it in terms of death and life. “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death. Whoever hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 John 3:14–15). 

Here’s the challenge, the dissonance in living as the light of life in a world of spiritual darkness. We are not to respond in kind. When we are hated, we are to love, love that is biblically defined. Having passed from death to life, we have been transferred from one kingdom to another, the perishing kingdom of this world to the everlasting redemptive Kingdom of God and His Christ. That’s what Jesus means when He says we are in the world but not of it (John 17:14-16). We should not be surprised by the tension we experience. 

So how do we live? Paul helps us in Romans 12:10-21 by laying out a Kingdom strategy for living in this world that includes blessing those who persecute us. His bottom line is this: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (12:21). 

What is your greatest challenge when facing ridicule and rejection?

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and ten grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.
Books by Stan Gale

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