“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”
Reflection – Kevin Washburn
We are familiar with the clash of values wreaking havoc in our culture. We track changes in the Supreme Court as if we are keeping score at a basketball game. We know the “red states” and the “blue states” and hope the few purple ones will come over to our side, especially on election night. We know that pro-this supporters will be yelling at the pro-that supporters more often than not. We get bent out of shape easily, and we live in a culture where it’s seen as strength to scream about how we’re being smothered. The other side is the enemy, they must be defeated, or we will surely be oppressed.
Faith in Christ shifts our values. It asks us to love our neighbors rather than trample them for our own advancement, to give to the poor rather than accumulating so much stuff that you have to rent a separate place to keep it all, to seek to tame the fire that is your tongue rather than speak your mind.
Unfortunately, people are not skilled at disagreeing without hating. When we live according to the values of our faith, we may encounter questioning, disrespect, and even hatred and all that comes with it. Why? Because those who respond in this way do not know God.
Recognizing this, which is what this passage makes clear, should fill us with compassion, not our own reactive hatred. I do not know anyone who has been picketed or shouted into faith; the tools of disdain do not extend the boundaries of the Kingdom.
I heard an interesting point made on a podcast recently. The interviewee reminded listeners that Princess Diana and Mother Theresa died in the same week. Most of us want to be like Princess Diana; we want the fame, the fortune, and the influence she embodied. We want celebrity even though it will be available to very few of us. In contrast, living more like Mother Theresa is available to all of us. We should be striving to live like saints, not celebrities.
Through Christ’s love expressed in our own lives, we may make friends of those who hate us.