Recently I’ve been hearing and reading from Atheists that they don’t particularly hate Jesus, but rather His followers. Considering the current climate in our country this is becoming more and more common to hear. As secularists obtain what they would consider wins against its opposition which is the religious, they become more convinced in their convictions that the religious are hateful, bigoted enemies that are unjustly harming all of humanity. Now, it’s important to note that consensus is what constitutes truth for secularists as they lack any foundation for their worldview. There was a time in this country where most agreed that slavery was a good thing for society as well as the broader world. In fact the idea of whites being superior to all colored races was foundational to the eugenics movement in Europe, specifically Nazi Germany. This movement also has roots in America, where Sir Francis Galton concluded genetic makeup determined race superiority in the late 1800s. And it goes back even further. Plato, the famous philosopher was a believer in eugenics as well as he suggested the idea of selective mating to strengthen certain classes. All of this changed over time, to a degree as we live in a more civilized society in the U.S. considering slavery was abolished. The question remains though, who was morally right? The supporters of slavery or those who were opposed to it? We know who ultimately won, but consensus doesn’t necessarily constitute truth. It merely means an overwhelming portion of a population came to agreement over a particular idea. Remember, the overwhelming population once agreed slavery was good for society.
In this lies the problem with those who are opposed to the religious and to be more specific, Christians. Those opposed are a rudderless ship commanded only by the waves which are their own opinions and desires. To them, truth is what they claim to be true but it isn’t necessarily true. This mixed with a complete misunderstanding of who Jesus Christ is produces a visceral reaction that is almost animalistic in nature to anyone who opposes their line of thinking. However this is expected because naturalism is ultimately the foundation for the worldview of those who oppose the idea of God and reject Christianity. The Christian worldview becomes a danger to the supposed progress of society. And progress is only measured by the consensus of the people who seek to fulfill naturalistic desires. Case in point, is the issue of homosexuality.
Religious views aside, even from a naturalistic point of view the very act of homosexuality bears no fruit. In fact, according to the CDC, those who are gay or bisexual regardless of race and ethnicity remain the population most profoundly affected by HIV. In 2010 the 4% gay population accounted for 78% of new HIV infections. Furthermore, this very same lifestyle simply cannot contribute to the advancement of the human race as it doesn’t lead to procreation. In fact it stifles it due to disease and the inability to produce children. Yet despite these plain facts it is the Christian who is called out as a bigot who seeks to derail all of human civilization with their barbaric and ancient dogmas. As we can see, the real issue isn’t about the advancement of society but rather the advancement of ideas agnostic to morality. A naturalistic society has but one aim as it pertains to morals and that is to free any moral thought from any objective confinement in order to truly live autonomously. Even if that level of independence threatens extinction to the human race, as homosexuality always has.
The Christian worldview is that objective confinement. God is the idea that must be eradicated and sadly many Christians are falling for the lie that secularists don’t hate Jesus, they just hate Christians. This is a dangerous idea to even entertain because for one, it’s simply false and two, it aims to separate believers from their Lord’s identity.
Would the world really love Jesus?
The short answer is an unequivocal no. The problem is that the world today sees Jesus as no more than a wise philanthropist. Some sort of loving Sage who had nothing better to do than devise a plan that would cause Himself to suffer the most gruesome and humiliating death on the planet. The world tends to look at the acts of Jesus healing the sick, helping the poor and chastising the greedy and claim this is love. However they fail to realize Jesus didn’t do these things out of a philanthropic heart. Jesus made it clear that He did these things to prove He was the Son of God.
“Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me,” (John 10:25)
“but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 10:38)
When secularist speak about the love that Jesus exhibited, the love that Christians apparently don’t have, they miss the entire point of Jesus. The expression of how much Jesus loved had everything to do with what He did on the cross, not off the cross. In fact to zero in on philanthropic works as the expression of Jesus’s kindness and love is to greatly minimize His death on the cross. Proper balance is in order. What good would it have been for Jesus to help people in a natural sense but allow them to be ushered into Hell for all eternity in a spiritual sense? What if Jesus withheld that important bit of information, only to come to earth and die a normal death after feeding the poor and healing the sick? The reality is the world hated Jesus because of who He was and because of His message. His message ran counter to a naturalistic worldview that spoke to the depravity of men and women. Those who claimed to be religious, like the Pharisees, were nothing more than self-righteous people living out naturalism under a veil of religious works. When secularists claim they hate only the followers of Christ they fail to realize who Jesus is and what Christians represent.
“and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matthew 10:22)
Despite His good philanthropic efforts, Jesus was offensive. He knew it and everyone around Him knew it.
“And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: 5 the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. 6 And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (Matthew 11:4-6)
The end result is Christ was crucified. By the world’s standard, sweet, loving, kind people aren’t rounded up by angry mobs and tortured just before a gruesome, violent death. The world hated Jesus and His message. The same message that Christians carry today.
We are defined by Jesus, not the world.
Undoubtedly there are some who pose as Christians who are misrepresenting the faith by acting in an unloving manner. There are also true believers who may have the right intentions but are acting un-Christlike towards unbelievers. Regardless, it is dangerous to entertain the lie that the world only hates Christ’s believers and that somehow we need to behave a certain way that aligns with the world’s naturalistic view. All too often I see chastising of the body of Christ, by Christians no less, concerning how the world views us and how we should work to placate the world’s behavior in order to let our light shine so others may see Jesus. To be clear, this doesn’t mean that believers should operate in an unbiblical and unloving manner to those outside of Christ. No. I suggest that as believers we take a hard look at what we’re supposed to look like to the world and contrast that with what Jesus looked like to the world. Scripture doesn’t concern itself with the believer seeking the world’s approval in order that those in it may come to Christ. This approach does nothing but lead to a watered down Gospel, secularist accommodating Churches where the sheep are starved of theology and a world confused as to who Jesus really was on the earth.
The takeaways from this are to remember the world does in fact hate Jesus whether they realize it or not. The reality is if Jesus was here today, they would hate Him and scream for Him to be crucified just as the people of His day did. The people didn’t want Jesus raining on their parade, convicting them of sin and preaching a message of eternal judgement and salvation. They wanted a philanthropist who danced to their tune to make the world what they demanded it to be, all driven by a naturalistic, deceitful heart. Lastly, we need to remember that Jesus defines who we are to be. We must not stray from scripture which molds us. Our identity is in Christ and it isn’t defined by the world. Lest we end up like the world, a rudderless ship commanded by the waves.