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Monday, March 16, 2015

Is Jesus "Likable"?

Jesus was not popular, Christians will be hated, Jesus was hated
Years ago I read the book "They Like Jesus But Not the Church."* It had some valid points about the way we Christians can make the Gospel unattractive by clumsy remarks and rude attitudes.

But the book's basic premise was flawed. It suggested that people will like us if we act more like Jesus.

But that's not Scriptural.

We should try to speak the Truth in love. But even when we do, our message will be neither politically correct nor tolerant of sin. If it is, we will have ceased to be representatives of Christ. 

Jesus made people angry...so angry they killed him. 

And it wasn't just the self-righteous religious people who hated Jesus. Anyone who refused to accept God's definition of sin hated Jesus (John 7:7). If we want to be like the true Jesus in Scripture, they will hate us too.

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved." Matthew 10:22 
*One reason they like Jesus is because they like "another Jesus," not the Jesus of Scripture.

Bible Study

1. It's important that we understand Christianity will never make us popular. The passages below (all words of Jesus) should leave no doubt. Why do you think Jesus so often talked about this subject?

Matthew 10: 21-22: “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 

Matthew 24:9-13: “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 

Luke 6:22: 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. 

Luke 21:17: Everyone will hate you because of me. 

John 3:20: Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 

John 6: 61, 66: Aware that his disciples were grumbling about [his teaching], Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? ... 66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.

John 7:7: The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. 

John 15:18-19, 24-25: “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 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...24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ 

John 17:14: I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 

2. What feelings, thoughts and questions do you have about your personal walk with the Lord when you read the passages below?

1 John 3:13: Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 

2 Timothy 3:12: In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted 

Please work through study before reading these insights.

1. Christ's words about His followers:
Christ doesn't sugar-coat what it means to follow Him. He says following Him may cause our siblings to betray us, our children to rebel against us, and everyone to hate us. Persecution against Jesus and the things He teaches will cause many who call themselves Christians to "grow cold." These "cold" people in our churches are the ones who influence us to compromise God's commands and principles.  

Why does the world hate Jesus-followers? Because, like Christ, our lifestyle and our words expose their wickedness. 

2.1 John 3:13 and 2 Timothy 3:12: 
When I read these words, I wonder if I have been faithful to represent Jesus. Am I hated and persecuted or simply inconvenienced by my Christianity? 

We shouldn't go looking for persecution, but neither should we assume we are correctly representing Christ if we never experience it.

Some people are persecuted because of the way they speak truth, and we don't want to be rude or harsh. But we can't use poor examples as an excuse to justify silence.  This reminds me of a situation that Dwight L. Moody encountered after one of his revival meetings. 

A woman approached him and said, "I don't like how you evangelize." 

"And how do you evangelize?" he asked.

"Well, I don't," she answered smuggly.

"Well, I like how I evangelize better than how you don't evangelize," Moody responded.
We must ask ourselves: if wer're not doing anything to annoy secular people, are we truly representing Christ? 

copyright 2015, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com
All Scripture NIV unless otherwise noted

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