You know what I hate? I hate solicitors.
I get knots in my stomach every time I’m walking into a grocery store and I see that guy or girl with the clipboard and a tree shirt. Or whale shirt, or a voter’s pamphlet, or whatever. It doesn’t matter—they could be trying to pitch me Jesus and I still would hate it.
Because I’m walking to the grocery store to either (A) get groceries or (B) use the bathroom. I’m not there to talk for “1-minute” about some cause. I’m there to get in, get my shopping done, and get out.
I don’t really hate the people who do soliciting. But the act of soliciting bothers me. I could sit down and have a great chat with a person who is passionate about saving Polar Bears—in fact, I have. But the environment of "soliciting" outside of a grocery store rubs me the wrong way.
Do you share my opinion about soliciting? It’s okay if you don’t. What I’m trying to bring up though is this nauseating feeling that we get when there’s something we hate.
Well, this feeling is the kind of feeling people get about Christians for all sorts of reasons.
If you are a Christian, Jesus says the world will hate you (John 15:18-20). But here’s the thing: Christians are hated today not for following Jesus too much but for following Jesus too little.
I’ve noticed that people really hate Christians today because we’re more about politics, or causes, or holding onto power than we are about the gospel. So I want to share several things people hate about Christians today.
Here are several reasons the world hates Christians.
We are too political.
In America, it’s very easy and tempting to wed our Christianity to a political party platform or person. Have you heard the term, “Moral Majority”? It has a long history tied to the Bible Belt.
It’s the kind of church that has the American Flag next to the pulpit. It's also the kind of church that has a worship service with AR-15's as a major part of the show. It’s the kind of church that wants to reclaim "Judeo-Christian values," prays for revival to get back to a "Christian America," rails against “the gay agenda,” and wants to mobilize voters. Maybe you walk into the church and get a voter’s guide handed to you. The Moral Majority itself is no more, but it's alive and well in White Evangelicalism today and was responsible for electing Donald Trump to office. In church, this is expressed by singing the hymn, "Make America Great Again."
As Emma Green for The Atlantic recently wrote, "Blinded by political tribalism and hatred for their political opponents, these leaders can’t see how they are undermining the causes to which they once dedicated their lives. Little remains of a distinctly Christian public witness."
We want your money.
From prosperity gospel preacher Joel Osteen to the Pope in Rome, Christians are known today for being out for your money. They have big television shows, they fill stadiums, and then they ask for money from their followers. Outsiders to the faith see this and can’t stand it.
And past the money, it’s also just the showiness of it all—like Benny Hinn and his outlandish stage demonstrations—knocking old ladies on the floor. (There’s this one video on YouTube that’s hilarious too, it’s done to the song that goes “Let the bodies hit the floor.”…) But I guess that’s still about money, Hinn’s offices were searched by the IRS last year due to tax evasion or fraud.
We are too judgmental.
Are we known for being quick to judge but slow to listen? I see a lot of Christians being and acting like jerks. Especially on social media, it’s like gloves are off and everyone is swinging these one-liners. Realize you’re always talking to real people. But Christians are known for being judgmental. When it’s standing for truth that’s one thing, but a lot of the time we are disrespectful and aren’t treating people like humans worthy of dignity and respect.
We have bad or no character.
Humility should mark every Christian, but American Christians have a lot of pride. And no desire to dialogue with others like they are normal people. One of the things that bothers me about getting Mormon missionaries at my front door is that they’re not really there to get to know me. They come to tell me what they want to tell me. Well, we make people feel like that when we treat them like a number. When we want to evangelize them without any relationship with them.
We are immoral.
There are too many high profile sex scandals associated with Christians and churches now to count. It’s sickening. Corruption, conspiracy, victimization. From Ted Haggard to Billy Graham’s grandson or other immoral and unethical pursuits that weren't sexually immoral, but were unethical: like what happened to Mark Driscoll in Seattle. Or the 19 Kids and Counting brother who was caught in a huge scandal through the affair webstie leaks. Examples abound and frankly, I don't need to highlight these because most people know about them or have met Christians who have been immoral. We've got Corinth written all over the American church.
We defend injustice.
You may have seen the hashtag #MeToo going around. And maybe you also saw #ChurchToo floating in the cloud. This is referring to the scandal of sexual abuse in the church today. People are coming forward and sadly evangelical churches have defended predators rather than the victims. In one of the first cases, the whole church applauded the pastor for confessing his sin, but his sin was actually a crime. So instead of prosecuting these crimes, people defended the perpetrator.
It’s exactly the kind of thing that makes non-Christians want to throw up. And it should make all of us sick to our stomaches because God hates all wrongdoing (and in Psalm 5, actually speaks of hating the wrongdoer too). If the world hates us because of this, good. They should. We should hate it too. #Me too. Unfortunately, it seems that many American churches would rather cover up sins instead of confessing them.
We don’t stand up for justice.
This is when we are quiet, or silent, in the face of evil. When crimes are committed and we just keep the status quo. When we don’t defend the rights of minorities, when we should. Or when we don’t care to listen to those who are hurting, when we should.
So all of these reasons are good reasons for people to hate us. I hate us for them too. (By the way, every single person is prone to these or other grevious sins. No Christian is immune to any of these sins. Christians are hypocrites.)
Those were some legitimate reasons we should be hated. So what was Jesus talking about when he said, you will be hated?
When It's Okay to Be Hated
According to Jesus, even if we are not too political or judgmental and we are consistent, faithful, and historic Christ-followers, the world will still hate us anyway. (So if you came to Christianity because you wanted to be liked by everyone, well, you came to the wrong religion!)
So Jesus gives us four reasons in John 15:18-30 we will be hated.
First, we will be hated because the world hated Jesus (15:18).
Second, we will be hated because we do not belong to the world anymore (15:19).
Third, we will be hated because we are followers of the one who was hated and persecuted (15:20). (This is kind of the same as the first reason, all the more reason to believe it then.)
And then there’s a fourth reason where Jesus is quoting a Psalm that says, “They hated me without a cause.”
Basically, you’re sometimes going to be hated just because. No reason, really, I just hate you. (Ever meet someone who hates your stinking guts and you can’t figure out why? Well, it happened to King David, it happened to Jesus, and it will probably happen to you sometime.)
So if the world hates you, make sure it’s for the right reasons. Make sure it’s because you are following the way of Jesus. That’s worth being hated for because it’s not a theology of power, it's the theology of the cross. And that, my friends, is a theology worth dying for.