“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. John 15:18-21 (NLT)
Following Jesus always comes with consequences. If you believe making Jesus the goal of your life will not come with opposition, you may have forgotten that what is visible is not all that exists. There is a spiritual world that contains spiritual beings, and not all of those spiritual beings are on Jesus' side. In fact, they live to oppose Jesus and all those who claim to be His. If that is you, then you have enemies, and they don't wear this flesh. Yes, people hurt us, but there is more at play.
These demonic beings exist to frustrate and dishearten. The last thing they want to see is you and me living sold out and surrendered lives for Jesus. One of their strategies is to instigate those around us. They do this in a number of ways. They will whisper lies into the ears of our friends, our family members, and even strangers. These spiritual beings will whisper words of ridicule and hatred hoping that those who hear will listen and take their advice and act.
You may have been on the receiving end of these suggestions, or you may have listened to these lies yourself and chosen to hurt and ridicule others. Jesus doesn't want us to be afraid of these beings, but He does want us to be aware. Demons are not around every corner, but they are around. They usually don't hang around too long; instead they often suggest a thought and then leave individuals to struggle with the lie they are hoping takes root and turns into action.
If these spiritual beings stirred people to resist and ridicule Jesus two thousand years ago, Jesus is letting us know they will do the same to us. Don't be surprised, be aware. That's what the Apostle Peter meant when he said, "Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour." If the enemy can dishearten you through the hatred of others, he can devour you."
Through the grace and love of Jesus, stay aware and don't lose heart when people come against you because you love Jesus. Jesus is your strength, and He has overcome this world and so can you.
Lord Jesus, help me to see what is happening when I am mistreated because of my commitment to You. Give me the ability to forgive people who listen to the lies of the enemy and act out against me. And forgive me when I do the same. Amen