There’s nothing new about the fact that Christians can be a polarizing group of people. From the very beginning of the Christian movement, followers of Jesus around the world have been persecuted, arrested, threatened, beaten, tortured, and put to death. While believers in the West might not experience the same level of persecution as historic Christians or fellow believers around the world today, we do feel the sting of not being liked. Maybe it has even cost you a promotion at work. Or maybe it has limited the relationships you have with certain people.
But why does the world hate Christians so much? Our message is one of love. God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for us that we might have life. Yet, we still seem to rub people the wrong way. Sometimes, Christians are disliked through no fault of their own. Other times, we needlessly bring it upon ourselves. It takes wisdom and spiritual maturity to know when we’re being hated for the right reasons. Here are five reasons why the world may hate that you’re a Christian, some good and some bad:
1. You’re judgmental
Sometimes Christians are guilty of being judgmental. We tend to think we’re better than other people because we’ve experienced a measure of transformation. We live good Christian lives. We become arrogant in our convictions, and that makes us look down on other people. People can sense that. And they don’t like it.
2. You’re unrelatable
I love Christians, but we have a tendency to be weird. We have our own lingo, music, and movies, and that can isolate us from the rest of the world. The longer we stay in our ‘holy huddles,’ the more bizarre we become to the unbelievers around us. It’s quite common for followers of Jesus to not have many, if any, close relationships with nonbelievers. To a certain measure, we should be weird. But the things that should be noticeably weird about us are our unshakeable hope, our undying faith, and our selfless love. For the unbelievers in our neighborhoods, classrooms, and workplaces to come to love us (and, we pray, to love Jesus), they have to know us. We should learn to relate to them on their terms and invite them into our lives.
3. You stand up for the weak and vulnerable.
Any time you stand up for the protection of the weak and vulnerable, you are doing the work of Jesus. In today’s culture, standing for the rights of unborn children may lead to a large portion of the population hating you—including some notable celebrities.Try as you might to state your position lovingly and logically, certain people will never listen until God changes their hearts. So until that person has an encounter with Jesus, we must learn to respond graciously to the hateful things that are said about us when we stand up for what we know to be true.
4.You act hatefully
Standing up for what is good and true in society is noble. Shouting, insulting, and holding up signs with graphic images of abortions or slurs against the LGBTQ+ community is distasteful. In fact, it’s downright hateful. We ought to disagree with the unbelieving world where we feel compelled by Scripture and conscience. In some cases, we should disagree very strongly and unequivocally. But the message that should permeate every disagreement is this: “I love you, even though I think you are deeply wrong.” Without love, we’re no better than those who act hatefully toward us. We can’t say we’re being persecuted for the cause of Christ when we ourselves are standing in hate. Jesus didn’t come full of hate. He came full of grace and truth. That’s the line we walk.
5. Your contentment and confidence make people uneasy.
Christians ought to be some of the most inwardly peaceful people on the planet. Once this kind of unshakeable confidence takes root in your heart, it begins to seep out of you. People notice. Some might wonder if you’re for real. They also may wonder if you’re just clueless to the problems of the world. Certain people may grow frustrated with you, because they just can’t figure out what makes you tick. Your confidence makes them insecure. Your contentment makes them envious and confused. Sometimes people lash out at you because they don’t like what they’re seeing in themselves.
We don’t want to cause any unnecessary stumbling blocks to the good news of Jesus. May the only complaint that can legitimately be levied against us be this: that we love our God more than someone else can understand.