How many people hate you, not just dislike or feel some form of animosity towards you, but actually have a fervent desire to never be anywhere near you. Hatred of course comes in many forms, from simple aversion to total rage, and every one of us has experienced each form of these to one extent or another in our lifetimes, but has it been brought upon you because of either your actions or inactions, or because of your resolve to serve Christ.
Not too many Christians I have met over the years know truthfully what it means to be hated for the sake of Christ, for they do as much as they can to stay away from those particular types of situations, the age of “never offending, even with the words of Scripture” began in earnest just a few short decades ago, and with it has begun a great falling away, (1 Tim. 4:1) with it has arrived the professing Christian who does not, or will not, stand in the day of adversity. There are many who profess Christ, but few who will do so with their lips, and even fewer still when the anger, the hatred, begins to appear in the faces and reproaches of those they are speaking to. “They love the praise of men, more than the praise of God.” (John 12:43)
There is no finer way to express it, the word of God is clear, either you are trying to please men, the world, or your desire is to be pleasing in the eyes of the Lord, you cannot think one way and act differently from those thoughts, for such a person is double-minded, and unstable in all his ways. (James 1:8) It is why this letter to you opened with the words hate, not only in some of the explanations of the word, but the reasons behind it, or at least the reasons that should be the cause of this hatred. So then, my brothers and sisters, can you think of the names of some the individuals who hate you because you serve Christ, not just in generality terms, but actual people that despise you because you are a visible to the world servant of the Most High God. Are you still trying to make friends with the world, with the lost, hoping that by becoming their friend first, or that by your actions only they will come to Christ, knowing full well that no one comes to salvation unless it is by the will and Word of God. (John 6:44) Are you not wanting to possibly offend them by asking them “who do you think Jesus is, or if you prefer, was?”
This is why it is called the falling away in 2 Thess. 2:3 “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.” It is not some quick and sudden jumping away from the precepts of Scripture, it comes slowly and methodically, and will show not only many in the world, but also to those who are in league with it, that their faith was not real in the first place. These will be left behind with the wicked, but at least the wicked will still have an opportunity for salvation. Those who profess Him with their lips only, those who pretend and deceived themselves, will be sent a strong delusion, (2 Thess. 2:11) they will have no second chance. For the sake of not wanting to be ostracized by their fellow man, for the sake of not wanting to experience any form of embarrassment, shame or hatred, they will instead know the wrath of God.
We are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, (Mark 12:31) we are to love those who hate us, but if no one hates you because you serve Christ, then you must look within yourself and see just who it is you are trying to please. We do not go out and search for this animosity to come upon us, if you are truly serving Christ, it will find you, you will not be able to escape the world of hate, for they hated Him first. But if everyone you know, every person you meet, is always polite and kind, friendly and really enjoys your company, then tell me, is every single individual that inhabits every area of your life a born-again believer, or are you just one of those “nice guys” that never “shoves his faith down the throats” of others.
The first misdirection that our adversary needed to take with the followers of Christ was the first one he used in the garden, the one of self. It was imperative to make the Christians believe that the most important part of being a Christian was their own self-worth in the eyes of God, they needed to begin to make sure that they were growing and developing. It sounds exactly like what we are supposed to do, doesn’t it, but as he did when tempting our Lord in the wilderness, (Matt. 4:6) when he left out part of the verse, he has left out our reason for existing. We are to glorify God in every area of our lives, not only within ourselves, but to the entire world, both in actions and words. It has accomplished what he desired, many of those who are professing Christ do so only within the confines of the church building, they have for the most part, huddled together every Sunday morning, listened to a sermon that will make them feel better, one that will tickle their ears, (2 Tim. 4:3) one that holds within it some form of entertainment, but not one intended to assist them in becoming profitable disciples, to send them out to a lost world to preach the gospel to all that will listen.
No, instead many have fallen into the trap of seeking to better themselves, seeking to grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord, (2 Peter 3:18) only for personal growth, but not to go out into all the world (Mark 16:15) and share their faith with others, because they might be hated. Their loyalty is divided between man and God, and for a pretense only do they serve the living God. Instead of knowing the blessing of being hated, (Luke 6:22) we flee from it, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19) If you are not hated in this world, no matter what terminology of the world you choose to use, then you must look deep inside yourself and re-evaluate your position in Christ, for the world only loves its own, the carnal mind is at enmity with God, (Romans 8:7-8) and seeks not the things of God, but of man. “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” (James 4:4)