Pastor Chuck DeVane
Special to The Sentinel-Record
"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you."
-- John 15:18, ESV
Rod Smart will not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but his smart nickname ought to be. "He Hate Me" was a true badge of honor. Jesus took it, too, sort of. He was the victim of a terrible hate campaign that came to a cruel end.
The he who hates is the world, and the me the world hates is Jesus. This is ironic because Jesus is God, and God is the most loving person in all His own creation. God made the world, God loves the world, but the world hates the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Hate is a colorful and complex word in the New Testament. It can speak of the fierce hatred of the pharisaical Jews against Jesus. It can speak of the fearful hatred of the power-hungry Romans against the promised Messiah. In the face of this hate, Jesus turned the other cheek, loved and forgave. Yet they nailed Him to the tree anyway. This is what Jesus had in mind when He said "He Hate Me."
But Jesus spoke of other hues of hatred, too. He said life is a choice of either serving God or serving yourself in this world, and one must love one and hate the other (ref. Matthew 6:24). To choose any other life other than one completely repentant, faithful, and obedient to the lordship of Christ is hatred toward Christ.
Jesus spoke plainly of sin, and said when a person loves their sin more than the light, then they hate the light. Jesus is the light, so people who live for illicit sex, excessive wealth, and sleeping in on Sundays must hate the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus spoke hyperbolically of hate in our relationships. He said one's love for Him must be supreme over love for any other, even spouse or parent or child, and to love anyone or anything more than Him is like hatred toward Him. Of course, you should love your family, but if you put anyone above Jesus Christ, it is an expression of hatred toward the Lord.
To be a part of the world who hates Jesus, you don't have to be the Judas who betrayed Him, nor the soldiers who arrested and beat Him, nor the executioner who hammered the nails through His hands and feet. You can simply be the one who is indifferent to Him, the one who lives in disobedience against Him, or the one who puts other people and things above Him. There are a lot of he's and she's in this world who hate the Lord Jesus Christ in these ways.
Christ and Christianity have made the world a better place. However, the world seems bitter for it. Just as the world tried to erase Christ with the cross, it is trying to erase real Christianity from the planet with politics, press, and the presence of wolves in shepherds' clothing in the church.
In my personal experience, I have witnessed more persecution from the world in the church than the church in the world. I don't remember being hated in my hometown, at school, or in the regular jobs I worked before becoming a pastor. I do remember being hated by church members for believing the whole Bible and being fired by one church for preaching the whole gospel. Hate hurts the most when it comes from within. With the exception of churches like ours that strive to be God-centered and Bible-oriented, it is only going to get worse, because He who hate Me is everywhere.
What are we going to do? Don't hate, love like the Lord. Love can turn some of our enemies into friends, and more than friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ. And, don't quit, wait for the Lord. The USA did not start World War II. Germany invaded Poland on Sept. 1, 1939, and Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Both were acts of aggression and hate. But while we did not start the war, we and our allies finished it, when Arkansas' own Gen. Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan's surrender on Sept. 2, 1945. The war against Christ and Christianity has raged for 2,000 years. Jesus did not start it. But when He returns, He will finish it. "Even so, come Lord Jesus."
Chuck DeVane is the pastor of Lake Hamilton Baptist Church in Hot Springs. Call him at 501-525-8339 or email [email protected]