Recently I have been frustrated and upset by statements on blogs and in the media, as well as comments in both places, that show a hatred of Christians and Christianity. Some of this comes from ignorance about what Christians truly believe or how Christ has called us to live in the world. We are called stupid and intolerant, even hate mongers. Our beliefs are ridiculed as myth or worse, and it is suggested that no one with half a brain could actually be a Christian and believe that the Bible is really the Word of God.
My first instinct is to respond with my own comments about how wrong those who attack Christianity are. I feel angry, but I know bitterness and an angry response would not be pleasing to God. So I slow down and seek the counsel of wise Christians who remind me that what I am called to do is love even those who hate me and are my enemies.
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28.
Then I pray and ask God for wisdom. He reminds me that He warned us this would happen:
[Jesus said,] “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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. 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. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. John 15:18-21.
I am also reminded that being hated because I cling to Him is not a bad thing in the long run. In His famous beatitudes, Jesus said:
Blessed are you when people hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets. Luke 6:22-23.
Sometimes the lessons I must learn are difficult and challenging to my heart and soul. My sinful nature tries to take over and wants to pay back what has been dished out to me. My pride swells up and I become indignant over the accusation that I am not intelligent because I believe in God. I did, after all, graduate from law school cum laude. I went to a very prestigious college and graduated in the top 11% of my class. I am an excellent writer, and my logic and reasoning skills are superb. How dare someone suggest that I am stupid because of what I believe about the origin of the universe and who Jesus is! They are the stupid ones and I could prove them . . .
But that is not the Godly way. As James pointed out, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20. This verse is actually my screen saver on my computer at work, and for good reason because I need to be reminded of it regularly. What I need to remember, too, is that those who attack Christians are lost. They don’t know God, but God knows them and wants to have a relationship with them. “The Lord . . . is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. My own pride and indignation will not further His goal. Only love can accomplish it.