Haters Hate

John 15: 18 – 19

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

It can be pretty confusing and disheartening when someone dislikes you or treats you badly when you have never done anything to them. And here is the bad news. The more godly you become, the more they will hate you. But take heart. They hated Jesus first and more so. You are in very good company.

I have great compassion for you because I know how it feels but the one who is greater has even more understanding and compassion. He has been through an even worse experience, so he is completely able to comfort you. The world hates you because you love him. In fact, we might ask ourselves what is wrong if the world does not hate us.

This is very difficult to handle at first. It is not fair. But once you understand what is going on, you begin to find it more tolerable and you actually begin to have compassion for those who persecute you. You will increasingly see them through your Father’s eyes and you will see that it is just their own brokenness that is causing them to malign you. Soon, very soon even, you will find their lies and criticisms do not touch you. You know the one who is the truth and that really is enough to comfort you. Take heart my beloved. You are in the best possible company and the master is well able to take care of you.

Bad Advice

2 Samuel 19: 5 – 6

Then Joab came into the house to the king and said, “Today you have covered with shame the faces of all your servants, who today have saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters, the lives of your wives, and the lives of your concubines, by loving those who hate you.”

Absalom was one of King David’s sons. Though David loved him Absalom plotted against David to take the throne of his father. He was successful in usurping his father so David fled from Jerusalem. Not satisfied though, and the recipient of bad advice, Absalom pursued David to kill him. Absalom was killed in the conflict and when news of his death was delivered to David, David wept bitterly. Some of David’s followers and specifically his general, Joab, were chagrined that David wept for their enemy. David was God’s friend though and the character of God had rubbed off on him. So, although Absalom had rebelled against him and plotted his overthrow, David still loved him.

In the margin of my Bible, next to this passage I have written, “See the advice of the world.” I was struck by how this Old Testament episode marks the problems we encounter today. The world tells us we should hate our enemies but David was a Kingdom man. He knew God and had learned to see through God’s eyes. David loved his son Absalom even though Absalom was not worthy of David’s love and devotion. That is how the Father of all treats us. Although we are unworthy, he loves us unquestioningly. In David’s grief he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you” (2 Samuel 18: 33). This is an exact representation of the Father’s love for us.

One thing I have discovered about the world’s advice is that it usually sounds good. It will always contradict with God’s view though. That is why, if we do not know the Father, we can easily be misled. Here is one rule, though, that we can always go by; that is the rule of love. If you are ever in doubt and one option is love then that is the way because God is love. His counsel will always bring you back to love. Every time! Where there is hate and anger you will not find God or His will. His way is grace and mercy. David understood this intrinsically and that is why he was called a friend of God.

Let this Old Testament event speak to your heart today. You have people who are against you and situations that are challenging but if you will seek the way of truth, life, grace, love, non-judgment and mercy you will find yourself the victor every time. This is God’s way. Don’t let the world view taint your perceptions. We are called to love those who hate us just as our father does.

Loving the Unlovely

Romans 12: 14

Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not.

This is grown-up Christianity. We have gone into the deep water. We know that if we love Christ we will keep his commands. Paul is preaching Christ here. Besides, we know that Jesus is the word, the entire word. But if that is not good enough let us see what Jesus said when he was still in the earth. Matthew 5: 44 reads, “But I say to you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” One translation says, “… bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you (KJV).

If you do not like these two verses, I don’t blame you. It is just not natural to heap blessing on those who persecute and hate us. But then, we weren’t called to be natural, were we? We are called to be supernatural through the power of Christ at work within us. These circumstances are when we most need the miracle working might of Christ Jesus ministering in us and through us. Jesus said that all things are possible with God (Mark 10: 27) so the key here is that we must be with God. We are not going to succeed in praying for and blessing our persecutors without God’s strength. The Apostle Paul received this revelation as well. In Philippians 4: 13 he wrote, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” With God all things are possible which is a really important thing to know when you believe that He has called you to the impossible like saving a country or forgiving your obnoxious brother-in-law. I wonder which is more difficult. Regardless, you are going to need God’s power and strength in order to do what you are supposed to do. We know that we are to follow all of Jesus’ teachings and obey his commands. If you have made a quality decision to follow in Jesus’ footsteps and be obedient to the calling within you including obeying all of Jesus’ ordinances then you need the power of God at work in your life. But, fear not. Father God has created a foolproof way for each of us to operate in that awesome power that can only be obtained through Him. He just comes and lives inside of us. We take off the grave clothes of our former lives and don the glory of the living God. He, God, becomes again our covering just as in the Garden of Eden when humanity was surrounded by the glory of God.  

There is nothing God cannot due and by extension there is nothing you cannot do when you are joined with the Holy One. You can even pray for your enemies and bless those who persecute you. Your glory is the Lord himself and He will lift you up and He will enable you to do all things. You are half of an unbeatable team. Now, what will you do?