Do Not Be Surprised if the World Hates You

There is no source of comfort as true or as good as God’s book, the Bible. For millennia, God’s people have turned to its pages to find solace, to find hope and encouragement. Sometimes comfort is found in unexpected places, in unlikely words. I found it this morning in a simple sentence written by Jesus’s dear friend John: “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13).

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Every Christian has endured times when we have been hated, when we have faced the scorn, the fists, or the swords of those opposed to God. We who put our faith in Jesus agree to bear the cross of Jesus. That cross comes with inevitable suffering and shame. We who follow a hated Savior cannot be surprised when we experience a measure of his suffering, when we bear a measure of his shame.

But why? Why are we hated? Why is it that we should be not surprised when the world turns against us?

Because Cain hated Abel. Just one verse earlier John has spoken of these two brothers and asked why one murdered the other. Cain murdered Abel “because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous.” Abel’s goodness exposed Cain’s badness. Abel’s righteousness convicted Cain of his unrighteousness. Abel’s love for God silently declared Cain’s disregard. Cain responded with the ultimate manifestation of hatred—he murdered his own brother.

Christian, you must expect to be hated today for the same reason. Your goodness unmasks the badness of the unbelievers around you. Your light illumines their darkness. Your truth exposes their error. Your holiness declares their depravity. Your life stands in judgment of them, it convicts them of their guilt, it shows them who God expects them to be. And all of this is true even though you are so far from perfect, even though so much of the old man remains.

No unbeliever can articulate this, of course. The very sin that is exposed by your holiness is the sin that keeps them from seeing it or acknowledging it. But the Bible declares it is so.

My friend, the more you love and honor God, the more you expose the evil of those who do not. The more you expose the evil of those who dishonor God, the more they’ll hate you. They’ll hate you because of who you love, because of who you resemble. They hated Jesus and they’ll hate those who are like Jesus.