Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. (1 John 3:13, NIV 1984).
My Musings – Why should we not be surprised? Because John heard it from the lips of Jesus. “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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. Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:18–20, NIV 1984). Guilt by association, or rather guilt because of relationship (we belong to Him, He has chosen us out of the world).
It will likely occur in stages (Msgr. Charles Pope), and we can already see some of each stage here in America, where it is less advanced than in certain other countries around the world.
Stage One: Stereotyping – Presuming that the negative traits of a few (many of which are not really Christians) are common to all. As a result, Bible-believing Christians are often caricatured as “Bible thumpers,” simpletons, haters of science, hypocrites, self-righteous, old-fashioned, and backwards.
Stage Two: Vilifying – Christians who do not conform to the “cultural revolution” are described as close-minded, harmful to human dignity and freedom, intolerant, hateful, bigoted, unfair, reactionary, exclusive, mean and basically bad people.
Stage Three: Marginalizing – Relegating Christians and the Church to the margins of society, confined to the four walls of the church and banished from the public square. Christianity becomes increasingly unacceptable and intolerable to the masses.
Stage Four: Criminalizing – Practicing the faith and teaching that many of the activities that are considered acceptable to society at-large are sinful and wrong are made illegal.
Stage Five: Outright Persecution – Confiscation of property, fines, incarceration, physical abuse, torture and possibly death. “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.”
My Advice – It’s coming. Before the end, the Church will come full circle. Continue to “speak the truth in love,” even to those who persecute and spitefully use you. “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:12–14, NIV 1984).