Christianity is no longer popular—at least not as popular as it has been in recent history. If you hold to traditional Christian doctrine, doctrine that has been consistent for two thousand years, you’re labeled as backwards, closed-minded, and feeble. If you want to be an accepted Christian today, you have to be a Buzzfeed kind of Christian, a Christian that says, “Hey, I’m just like you, and I’m sorry for the ‘Christians’ who aren’t like us.”
But this should be no surprise to us, because it is the default setting for Christians to be hated by the world. This is how it has always been, and it’s how it will be until Christ returns. For His disciples, Jesus prayed,
I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. – John 17:14
There’s a connection here between being hated, being not of the world, and having been given the word. The disciples were given Jesus’s teachings, the word of He who fulfilled the law of God and taught how it was meant to be understood and followed.
They were given the new covenant, which is entered into by faith alone in Jesus Christ alone, by God’s grace alone, and their message that they were now being sent out to spread is that Jesus Christ died on the cross to make peace between God and a rebellious people. And when that rebellious people would turn away from their sinful lives and turn to the Savior, they were to give their entire lives to Him and to joyously serve in His Kingdom. This was not a popular message. And it is still not a popular message.
It is a message that is not of this world, sent by He who is not of this world, spoken through men and women who now also are not of this world. And the world hates them for it as they hate Christ for it. Again, this is no surprise, as the Savior earlier told His disciples,
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. – John 15:18
People love this world. And Christ calls people to forsake this world. And the people who love this world hear what Christ demands, and they hate Him for it. And they hate us for it.
Well, this isn’t really a feel-good bleat thus far. How can we be encouraged? We can be encouraged by remembering that first, if we experience trial in this world, it’s part of the plan, and it’s a privilege to share in Christ’s sufferings for His namesake. And secondly, we can be encouraged by looking forward to a world that is our own. We are not of this world, but we are of the kingdom of God. And though we have seen, we have not yet seen. Christ will restore the world to righteousness and subject His enemies under His feet. So, we look not too much at this world. We serve here. We toil here, to the death. But we remember that we are not home. Not yet.