Throughout all the ages there has been a constant battle between the Church and the world. This is a spiritual battle in which the world, in hatred against Christ, unites to oppose and destroy the cause of Christ and His people. It is also through this battle that the people of God unite in love to God and stand with the victory of faith to fight this opposition.
This battle was especially outwardly apparent during the days of Christ’s ministry. At this time, the unity of the world in its hatred for Christ was evident even from the time of His birth. The world so greatly hated Christ and His purpose on earth, to save His people and establish a heavenly kingdom, that they tried desperately to kill Him and did so after only a few years of His ministry. It may have seemed then that the wicked world was victorious, but three days after it was clearly evident that they were all wrong. For when Christ arose, all could plainly see that He was indeed the Victorious One.
Since the time of Christ, this battle has changed somewhat. Although it remains a spiritual battle as it was then, it has lost most of its physical form. In the Old Testament, there was actual warfare between Israel, the nation of the children of God at that time, and the wicked nations of the world. When Christ was on the earth, the opposition was directed mainly upon Him. But, as long before promised, after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit the Church grew and was chosen out of the world. Since the world now has no one particular nation to fight or no specific subject to oppose, they can only take an inward opposition to the followers of Christ. For this reason, we, as Christians, are “hated by the world.”
In his farewell sermon, Christ said, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: But because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18 and 19). It sounds like a great privilege, does it not, to be hated by the world? Even though from every earthly point of view we may seek to be loved by the world, what true Christian would, for even one minute, want to forsake Christ to get a taste of a little of that love?
Many times, even for us, it may appear that the world is winning the battle. The Powers of Darkness far outnumber the Powers of Light, and the greatest riches and power of the world have usually belonged to the wicked. It can also be much too easy for us to look at these earthly treasures with lustful eyes because these powers are so great. But this is where faith plays its important role of making us see beyond these powers and accept the hated of the world: for, it is faith that gives us the victory.
Hate may seem to be a strong word and we may not particularly enjoy the idea that we are being “hated by the world,” but would we want it any other way? It is our Christian duty to witness for Christ in the world. Many of us do too little of this because we fear the open hatred which may well be the result of our efforts. But as Paul said in his letter to the Philippians, “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the Sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world.” This is our calling. We must be as lights shining in the darkness of the world, a world which hates light. But the battle will soon be won. For Faith is the Victory.
Originally Published in:
Vol. 31 No. 5 August/September 1971