"Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy!"

Erin was here yesterday on her way back to Colombia, and we talked about my medical bill situation (it's been sent to a collection agency now). An important part of that discussion, for me at least, was reaffirming that Christians are supposed to be attacked because of the way we live. Not honored, thought of as "good people," but attacked and hated.

Do we know this? Does this fit with our version of Christianity? Or, more importantly, do our lives fit with Jesus' version of Christianity?

I was reading in John this morning and came across this line in Jesus' prayer (17.14): "I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world." Here's some more:

Even his brothers did not believe in him. Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil." (Jn 7.5-7)

"If you were of the world, the world would love 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 persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all this they will do to you on my account, because they do not know him who sent me.

"I have said all this to you to keep you from falling away. They will put you out of the synagogues; indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God." (Jn 15.19-21, 16.1-2)

"If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. ...Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man's foes will be those of his own household." (Mt 10.25,34-36)

"Blessed are you when men hate you, and when they exclude you and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, on account of the Son of man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets." (Lk 6.22-23)

"You will be hated by all for my name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved." (Mk 13.13)

And of course Jesus' life (and death) showed the reality of this. I'm not sure then, where we get the idea that Christians can be seen primarily as "nice people" or how we can expect to "fit in" with society--when our leader, our guide, our model was crucified.

Yet we do fit in so well, in so many ways. Doesn't that indicate a problem?

Do we "testify that its works are evil"? Are we excluded, reviled, our names cast out as evil because we "do not belong to the world"--economically, politically, spiritually? Jesus demonstrated what this looks like, in poverty, despising worldly power, obedient to and trusting God alone. And he showed us how society would respond to those who followed him.