Should Christians Expect Intolerance from the World?
by Alan Anderson
I hate to say it but I’ve done my fair share of complaining about how Christians are treated in our secular culture. I’ve never honestly thought about it before now and I finally asked myself the question, should I really be surprised by how little tolerance is shown for Christians in today’s culture? When I asked myself this question, I started thinking of the many Biblical examples that illustrate that Christians have rarely been treated with tolerance over Christianity’s historical timeline. In fact, Jesus pointedly addressed how the world will treat Christians with hate and contempt in the following passages,
John 15:18-25 – 18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
Matthew 10:16-21 – 16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, 20 for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
After reading Jesus’ own words, should we be surprised at the intolerance that is often displayed towards Christians? The display of intolerance (and hate) should be an real expectation. This warning has existed for the last two millennia. Jesus’ direct quote, “That is why the world hates you”, should be a clear indicator that Christians (who are not of the world) will experience hatred simply because we are His followers. His comments weren’t merely speaking to ‘intolerance’, He was speaking to hatred; something much stronger. Intolerance is not the equivalent to hatred. For example, I am intolerant when it comes to my children being disrespectful towards me and others but I love my children nonetheless. Hatred can drive people to do unspeakably awful things that mere intolerance is incapable of. Hatred can fuel people to perform atrocious acts. The most horrid chapters of history have been the result of hatred.
Jesus is unambiguously explicit in outlining how Christians will be treated as they faithfully live out their relationship with Christ…
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