Don't Be Surprised


Lord, I confess that it is hard to be misunderstood. It is even more difficult to be hated. But I want to remain faithfully different. Thank You for taking me out of this wicked world and making me a child of God. I belong to You, not the world. Give me Your courage to shine Your light no matter what.


Remaining faithfully different reveals Christ to a world that doesn’t know Him. Remember that how you handle and respond to the hatred of the world is a powerful witness to the world.


Read John 15:18-21 (ESV)
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”


What kind of treatment from the world should believers in Christ expect?

We have been exceedingly blessed to be born into a country that legally protects the free exercise of religion in the first amendment to our Constitution. For most of the history of the United States, Christianity has been predominant in our culture and played a critical role in establishing American values and ideals.

However, in 2019 Pew Research confirmed that Christianity is on the decline in the United States and as the population becomes less Christian and more secular, Christians with our biblical worldview are becoming less welcome in the public square. Often, it seems as if many Christian Americans are surprised by the fact that the worldly culture around us doesn’t seem to like us anymore. Sadly, it has driven many churches to compromise or flat out abandon biblical doctrine just to keep their numbers up and to appear more inclusive than other Christian churches that won’t budge on the Bible.

But when we go back to the Bible, we realize that we shouldn’t be surprised that we aren’t popular. In today’s passage, Jesus warned us that the world will hate us. Why? Because it hated Him and we bear His name!

In truth, this hatred of Christianity is nothing new even though it may feel like it to those of us who have been blessed with religious freedom and cultural Christianity in western civilization for so long. Remember, we are following Jesus Christ who would be arrested in the garden, given a sham trial, beaten, abused, and crucified even though He was innocent.

In Jesus’ Upper Room Discourse, as He told His disciples goodbye, He warned them. He was hated by the powers that be in the world. So would they. He would be beaten for teaching and preaching His Gospel. So would they. He would be put to death like a criminal even though He was innocent of any crime. So would many of them. As servants of Christ, they weren’t greater than their Master. And neither are we. Frankly, we shouldn’t expect to be safe and loved in a world that is run by the Enemy.
Christians have been horrifically persecuted throughout history all around the world. According to Open Doors USA, 360 million Christians suffered severe persecution or discrimination with 5,621 believers being martyred for their faith in just 2022 alone! In her book Faithfully Different, Natasha Crain quoted Jesus in today’s passage (John 15:18-21) and then noted: “It’s obvious from Jesus’ own words that we should never expect to live in a culture where it’s standard for people to have a biblical worldview. The question we need to answer isn’t, ‘How do we create a culture where it’s more normal to be a Christian?’ but rather, ‘How can we best be faithful to our calling in a world where it will never be normal to be a Christian—and in a culture where it’s becoming less and less so?’”

Friends, we are not of this world. This world is fallen and evil. It is run by the Enemy and made up of mostly unsaved, spiritually lost people who don’t know the Lord. If we fit in with the world, it would love us. But we don’t. At least we shouldn’t! The apostle Paul wrote that we are to: “...prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). We can’t shine His light if we blend in with the dark. We must not be afraid to stand out.

As Natasha Crain puts it, we must remain “Faithfully different.” But as we do so, we should remember that Jesus warned us the world would not appreciate it. If you lose friends because you are faithful to Christ and His Word, don’t be surprised. If you are mocked or scorned at school or at work for your Christian faith, don’t be surprised. If you lose your job because you are a Christian, don’t be surprised. No matter how bad the discrimination or persecution gets, don’t be surprised. But do rest assured that we have been chosen out of this crooked world by Christ and that in Him, we have a hope that is eternal.