Don’t be surprised if they hate you. They hated Jesus too.

Matthew 10.24-25, Luke 6.40, John 13.16, 15.18-25.

Today’s passages get frequently taken out of context by Christian jerks. So let’s deal with them up front.

Jerks either deliberately try to offend, or don’t care that they do offend. And there are a lot of Christians, religious or not, who behave this way. They want people to be outraged. They want division and strife. They don’t care that these are works of the flesh; they’re not that fruitful anyway, and are way more interested in doctrinal purity than goodness and kindness and grace. So when people get angry, they perversely assume they’re doing something right. After all, didn’t Jesus say we’re blessed when people condemn and rage against us like the ancients did the prophets? Lk 6.22-23 Everybody hates you! Rejoice!

Of course they’re going about it the wrong way. If we have God’s mysteries and share them, yet we don’t do so in love (and no, tough love doesn’t count), we’re an annoying noise; we’re nothing, and gain nothing. 1Co 13.1-3 You might play the best music on your new 150-decibel sound system, but people are gonna hate it because it’s too loud, and it’s 2 a.m. In the same way, people don’t hate Christian jerks because they’re Christian, so much as because they’re jerks. So let’s not be. Let’s be kind.

Jesus’s statements here are not for jerks. But man alive are jerks quick to quote them. “Oh, oh! I’m being persecuted. Well, Jesus said it’s to be expected. They hated him; they’ll hate us.”

Yeah, but they hated Jesus for entirely different reasons. They hated Jesus because he called BS on ’em. Exposed their fake piety. Loved people they didn’t consider worth loving. Objected to their loopholes. And worst of all: There was supernatural evidence he was right, because you can’t just cure people on Sabbath unless God endorses such behavior. Their doctrine was undermined by YHWH himself… which is why they insisted Jesus’s cures couldn’t be God things, and had to somehow be devilish.

So when Jesus brought up persecution in his Olivet Discourse, he reminded them this shouldn’t catch them by surprise. The ancients persecuted the prophets; their contemporaries hassled Jesus himself. Stands to reason people were eventually gonna come after them too. Again, not because they’re being dicks about the gospel: Because God’s kingdom runs contrary to their comfortable status quo.

So since they went after Jesus, don’t think we’re exempt. He’s the teacher; he’s the master; we’re just his apostles and students and slaves. Like he says.

Matthew 10.24-25 KWL
24 “A student isn’t above the teacher, nor a slave above their master.
25 It’s fine for the student to become like their teacher, and the slave like their master.
But if people call the homeowner ‘Baal Zevúl,’
how much more those of his house?”
 
Luke 6.40 KWL
“A student isn’t above the teacher,
and everyone so repaired will be like their teacher.”
 
John 13.16 KWL
“Amen amen! I promise you a slave isn’t greater than their master,
nor an apostle greater than their sender.”

Out of context, this passage is also occasionally used by false teachers to make the claim they’ve studied Jesus so much, so extensively, they’re just as authoritative as he. Which everyone should instantly recognize as rubbish, but you’d be surprised how many Christians are total suckers for a winsome cult leader. Everybody co-works with Jesus, but nobody co-leads with him. He’s Messiah; he’s king; he’s above every other name. No matter how wise his followers might get… and the smart ones are wise enough to stay humble and not pull rank.

Even in Christian-majority countries.

Obviously in a country which considers itself Christian, has a Christian majority, or has a national church which people actually attend, you shouldn’t expect to see people hating on Christians—other than antichrists. And most antichrists won’t do much more than troll you. It won’t be real persecution; they’ll just call you rude names. Not burn Jesus fish on your lawn.

And if they did burn Jesus fish on your lawn, the public would be outraged, and cops would actually go after ’em for committing a hate crime. Yeah, in the United States, there’d also be outrage and police support if people did something just as anti-Jewish or anti-Muslim… but not as much as if a Christian were attacked. ’Cause of all the Christians. This is a country where it’s entirely safe to be Christian. Entirely.

Yeah, I know various Christians claim that’s not so. They’ll claim they were discriminated against at work, by the government, by their neighbors, by shopkeepers and clerks and waiters, by everyone. And as Americans no doubt know from experience, none of these people were shunned or blackballed because they’re Christian. It’s entirely because they’re boorish, rude, inconsiderate, and offensive. Wearing some pro-Jesus T-shirt which also happens to be antigay, racist, pro-Confederate, pro-fascist, anti-Islam, or otherwise proclaims their politics instead of the gospel. Treating workers and waitstaff rudely and dismissively, undertipping, demanding they observe our holidays, and blaming the dirty looks on “It’s because I’m Christian, isn’t it?” No; the Christianity is the only good thing about you, and we really wish there were more of it in you. It’s not your Christianity; it’s your false advertising.

The only people who truly persecute Christians in the United States, are fellow Christians who don’t think they’re Christian enough. Or, if the persecutors are more into certain forms of Christianity which are really more about politics and appearance than actually following Jesus… well, they’re doing the same as certain powerful Pharisees of Jesus’s day, and they’re gonna hate us for the very same reason these Pharisees hated Jesus.

So it won’t be persecution from the state or society—unless these hypocrites are in any position of political power, and sad to say, some of ’em are. It’ll just be excommunication. We won’t be welcome in their functions anymore. ’Cause we’re too much about following Jesus—but they’ll insist it’s really because we’re liberal, or heretic, or too fixated on works righteousness, or any slander they can use to paint us as the villains. In Jesus’s case it was to claim he really worked for Satan.

And yeah, these self-described Christians don’t know Jesus any more than any pagan. If they did, they’d easily recognize us as Christians too. They might still disagree with us; they might wanna argue our positions aren’t as biblical as theirs. They’ll remember to be civil, and fruitful, and to behave like Jesus wants all his followers to. But remember how Jesus said you’ll know people by their fruit? Yeah, they won’t exhibit any.

John 15.18-25 KWL
18 “If the world hates you all, know it hated me before you.
19 If you’re being of the world, the world loves its own.
Because you’re not of the world—instead I select you all to be out of the world—
this is why the world hates you.
20 Remember the lesson I told you? ‘A slave isn’t greater than their master.’
If they persecute me, they’ll persecute you too.
If they keep my lesson, they’ll keep yours too.
21 But they’ll do all these things to you because of my name,
because they haven’t known my Sender.
22 Had I not come and spoke to them, they wouldn’t be sinning.
Now they have no excuse for their sin:
23 One who hates me, hates my Father too.
24 Had I not done the works I do among them which no one else does,
they wouldn’t be sinning.
Now they had seen, and hated both me and my Father.
25 But now they can fulfill the word which is written in their Law,
that ‘they gratuitously hate me.’” Ps 69.4

Note Jesus refers to such Christianists as “the world.” It’s what he called people who weren’t of his flock, of his body, of his church. They’re not his. They might claim to be his, and certainly think they’re his, but no fruit means not Christian.

And they’ll come after Christians when we do as Jesus did, and rebuke their bad and devious behavior. Kindly, lovingly, not with the intent of embarrassing them, but of getting them to repent and do better. Never return dickishness with dickishness, much as you’ll be sorely tempted to, but love. But no matter how gently we rebuke ’em, people do not wanna hear we’re wrong, and for some it’ll spark a war. A total, destructive, burn-Atlanta-down kind of war.

What to do? Well, all sorts of things. But Jesus stated these things in the scriptures because he wanted us to be prepared for them to happen. Whether it’s in a nation utterly antagonistic towards Christians like the early Roman Empire, or a nation which totally sucks up to Jesus like the United States: Be prepared.