The Bible’s Viewpoint
Why Are Jesus’ True Followers Hated?
“People will deliver you up to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be objects of hatred by all the nations on account of my name.”—MATTHEW 24:9.
JESUS spoke those words just a few days before he was brutally killed. On the night before his death, he said to his faithful apostles: “If they have persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:20, 21) But why would people hate those who obey Jesus and try to be like him? After all, he expended himself in behalf of others, comforting the poor and giving hope to the downtrodden.
The Bible reveals specific reasons for that hatred. When we examine these, we see why people today who follow Christ face much of the same opposition that he did.
Opposers May Act in Ignorance
Jesus said to his followers: “The hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God. But they will do these things because they have not come to know either the Father or me.” (John 16:2, 3) To be sure, many persecutors professed to serve the same God Jesus served, but they were influenced by false religious beliefs and traditions. Yes, they had “a zeal for God; but not according to accurate knowledge.” (Romans 10:2) One such opposer was Saul of Tarsus, who later became the Christian apostle Paul.
Saul belonged to a group known as the Pharisees, a politically powerful and influential Jewish sect that opposed Christianity. “I was a blasphemer and a persecutor and an insolent man,” Saul later acknowledged. He also said: “I was ignorant and acted with a lack of faith.” (1 Timothy 1:12, 13) However, once he learned the truth about God and His Son, he immediately changed his ways.
The same has happened to many former persecutors today. What is more, some of these, like Saul, have become objects of persecution themselves. Nevertheless, they have not returned evil for evil but have followed Jesus’ exhortation: “Continue to love your enemies and to pray for those persecuting you.” (Matthew 5:44) Jehovah’s Witnesses strive to apply those words, hopeful that at least some opposers will have a change of heart, as Saul did.
Some Opposers Are Envious
Many who opposed Jesus did so out of envy. Indeed, Roman governor Pontius Pilate “was aware that because of envy the chief priests had handed [Jesus] over” to be impaled. (Mark 15:9, 10) Why were the Jewish religious leaders envious of Christ? One factor was his popularity with the common people, whom the former looked down on. “The world has gone after him,” the Pharisees complained. (John 12:19) Likewise, when people later responded positively to the ministry of Christ’s followers, religious opposers once again became “filled with jealousy” and lashed out at the Christian evangelizers.—Acts 13:45, 50.
Other enemies resented the good conduct of God’s servants. To fellow Christians, the apostle Peter said: “Because you do not continue running with them [the wicked] in this course to the same low sink of debauchery, they are puzzled and go on speaking abusively of you.” (1 Peter 4:4) The same negative attitude can be seen today. Of course, true Christians, while avoiding bad conduct, do not display a self-righteous, superior attitude. That, in fact, would be unchristian, for all humans are sinners and in need of God’s mercy.—Romans 3:23.
Hated for Being “No Part of the World”
“Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world,” the Bible says. (1 John 2:15) To which world was the apostle John referring? The world of mankind estranged from God and in submission to Satan. He is “the god of this world.”—2 Corinthians 4:4, The New Testament in Modern English; 1 John 5:19.
Sadly, some who love the world and its bad ways oppose those who try to live by Bible teachings. Hence, Jesus said to his apostles: “If you were part of the world, the world would be fond of what is its own. Now because you are no part of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, on this account the world hates you.”—John 15:19.
How sad that people hate Jehovah’s servants for not embracing a world that is riddled with corruption, injustice, and violence and that is ruled by Satan! Many sincere people want to make the world a better place, but they are no match for its unseen ruler. Only Jehovah God can get rid of Satan—and he will, by utterly destroying him, as if by fire!—Revelation 20:10, 14.
That wonderful prospect is a key element in the precious “good news of the kingdom” proclaimed worldwide by Jehovah’s Witnesses. (Matthew 24:14) Yes, the Witnesses are convinced that only God’s Kingdom, his government by Christ, will bring lasting peace and happiness to the earth. (Matthew 6:9, 10) Hence, they will continue to proclaim that Kingdom, viewing God’s approval as far more important than that of men.
HAVE YOU WONDERED?
● Why did Saul of Tarsus oppose Christ’s followers?—1 Timothy 1:12, 13.
● Some of Jesus’ enemies were motivated by what bad attitude?—Mark 15:9, 10.
● How do true Christians view the world?—1 John 2:15.
[Picture on page 21]
In 1945, Jehovah’s Witnesses experienced mob violence in Quebec, Canada, for preaching the good news of God’s Kingdom
Courtesy Canada Wide