1 John 3:13 states, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” In a wonderfully bold statement, John reminds us that we should not be surprised or startled if the world hates us. To hate expresses here an emotion of loathing coupled with malice. Some languages render it by a phrase such as, “not to see a person in the eye,” which means that one cannot stand that person under any circumstances.
I do not truly understand why we are so confused when the world hates us and hates what we stand for. However, I think one of the reasons we are so shocked by this is that we do not do our part to restore relationships. This is something that John addresses early in this section. He states in 1 John 3:11, “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.” In this verse, John deals with something that we must do to ensure that we have proper relationships with one another. If we are honest, we rarely do our part to humble ourselves to make our relationships right. This shows that we do not take those commands seriously because of our pride. When we are prideful with one another we will always be prideful towards the world.
Look at it this way: humility between believers should lead to humility in the world. However, the opposite will also be true: pride between believers will also lead to pride in the world. If we live our lives in pride, people will hate us. This is not what John is telling us.
Jesus told us:
“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 (John 15:18-20).
Jesus also said: 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).
If we are faithful to scripture, the world will hate us. Prepare for that. However, if we are simply jerks in how we act and people hate us, we should repent. People hating us because of our political views is not what Jesus is preparing us for. People hating us for our social media posts is not what Jesus is preparing us for. People hating us because we are mean-spirited, arrogant, selfish, prideful, and opinionated is not what Jesus is preparing us for. We should not live that way and pat ourselves on the back when people hate us and wear it as a badge of honor.
This is why living in humility inside the church is so important because when we fail to live that out inside the church walls, we will almost always be arrogant citizens who are condemned by the world. The Gospel is divisive enough; we should not live in such a way as to turn others away from the Gospel simply because we are jerks. Being a jerk is not a fruit of the Spirit. Let us repent and recognize that we must do all we can to love our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us humbly walk with people who think differently. Let us do all we can to walk peaceably with all people (Romans 12:18).