The More We’re Like Jesus, the More We’ll Be Hated!

Do you want to be hated, really hated? Then live more like Jesus. No, not the Jesus who has been imagined by popular culture nor the Jesus who has been re-defined by liberal churches. If you want to be hated by your family, friends, co-workers, and the culture-at-large, then start living like the Jesus of the Bible. After all, that Jesus said that His followers (then and now) would be hated:

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.  And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.” (Matthew 24:9-10. ESV)

But, of course, who wants to be hated? I certainly don’t. I’m not sure that I know too many people (although there are a few oddballs out there) who go out of their way to be hated by people who they know, not to mention those who they don’t know. That’s why many Christians today have bought into the lie, “if you would only be more like Jesus, then . . . “  At least that’s the premise of David French’s article, “If Only You Were More Like Jesus,” on National Review Online’s The Corner. Writes French:

Mark Steyn’s and Michael Walsh’s posts below — gleefully and rightfully skewering the New York Times for its religious ignorance — remind me of a rather common liberal, secular critique of Christian conservatives. “If only you were more like Jesus,” they proclaim, “and less concerned with [fill in the hot-button social issue here], then you would reach more people.” I’ve mostly experienced this argument as a weapon wielded against young, idealistic Christians — often on college campuses — who are experiencing rejection and scorn for the first time in their lives.

But here’s the catch: Those delivering the critique are as ignorant of Jesus as the New York Times. To the Biblically illiterate, Christ is simply the ideal man within their own frame of reference; it’s a short-hand way of saying “be more like a better version of me” or “be like the most compassionate person I can imagine” (however they define compassion).(emphasis added)

What an astute observation about being more like Jesus in a culture that does not know who the real (i.e., Biblical) Jesus truly is. So, instead of actually following this Jesus, many who claim to be Christians — especially when faced with peer-pressure, rejection, ridicule, and hatred — will just try to be “more like Jesus.” But, as French points out (with a nod to “The Princess Bride”), “‘be more like Jesus’ does not mean what we think it means.”

Even though Jesus is the most compassionate person who ever lived — He actually demonstrated God’s great compassion and love for sinners by dying on the cross (you can’t get much more compassionate than that) — our modern culture simply cannot fathom a Jesus whose compassion is in any way divergent from how it has come to be defined in a post-Christian, pagan society. That’s why to be “more like Jesus” in our compassion toward others now means not just “love the sinner, hate the sin,” but “love the sinner, accept the sin.” That’s what Jesus would do, right? Well, no!

No where is that false philosophy on display more than in the debate about homosexuality and so-called gay “marriage.”  The time is coming — and now is — when those who speak or preach openly against the sin of homosexuality will be scorned, marginalized, rejected, and hated as bigots in an otherwise enlightened society. To proclaim the Gospel and Christ’s compassion for those chained in sexual sin — particularly the sin of homosexuality — will no longer be tolerated in a “tolerant” society.

On this issue, perhaps more so than any other moral issue that will confront Christians within our American culture, we will have to be “more like Jesus.” The only question is, “Which Jesus will we be more like?” Will it be the one who our culture has created as “the ideal man within their own frame of reference,” the cool, compassionate dude who everyone likes? Or will we risk the condemnation of men to be more like the Jesus of the Bible, the Compassionate One who said in His most famous sermon:

Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.  Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12, ESV)

 

4 comments for “The More We’re Like Jesus, the More We’ll Be Hated!

  1. Christiane
    April 3, 2013 at 10:26 AM

    an interesting post . . .
    I think about the group that is the most hated and despised in our country, the Westboro cult, and I don’t see Our Lord’s Presence among them. Then, I look at other Christian people who are loved because of their lives of unselfish service . . . and I see a difference, yes.

    Do people ‘create’ in their minds an image of Jesus to be ‘like themselves’ . . . to justify what they do and say? Do people without realizing it create God in their own image, so that they may continue destructive behaviors and feel justified?

    I often wonder how the Westboro cult can ‘justify’ all that hatred. They surely have the same Scriptures as other folks who believe in Our Lord?
    I can say this: as long as most people find Westboro ‘hateful’, I will feel reassured.

    The sacred Scriptures are a powerful testament. They can be interpreted many ways. But the Person of Christ IS the transformative power in people’s lives, through the Holy Spirit. And if peace, love, patience, endurance, kindness, compassion . . . if those qualities begin to grow in strength in a believer, I suppose that is something the ‘world’ may see as weakness and despise. In that way, perhaps you are right.

  2. Tom Parker
    April 4, 2013 at 5:17 AM

    Howell; The problem IMO is that none of us as believers are even close to being like Jesus. There is so much fighting among Christians today that the world is not seeing much of Christ. Just my 1/2 cents worth. Have a good day!

    • April 6, 2013 at 5:40 PM

      Tom,

      Sorry for the delay in responding, but my access to my blog site had been blocked from home for the last few days. Got it fixed this morning, which makes writing posts and responding to comments much easier :-) You are probably right in that none of us are even close to living like Jesus. I’m not sure that any of us will ever get that close, but I do think that our culture has a different interpretation of what it means to live like Jesus which is often at odds with how Scripture tells us that Jesus actually lived. I think we will see this divergence of opinion come to a head in the coming months and years, such that the culture’s redefinition of Jesus will trump the Jesus of the Bible. When that happens, then we will have even more problems than the fighting you referenced. At that point, we will have a problem with even being able to freely share the Gospel to a lost and dying world. As always, thanks for stopping by. God bless,

      Howell

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