There’s nothing new about the fact that Christians are a polarizing group of people. From the very beginning of the Christian movement, followers of Jesus around the world have been persecuted, arrested, threatened, beaten, tortured, and put to death.
In light of all that, it may seem a little silly to complain online about how people simply make fun of us.
Nevertheless, while believers in the West might not experience the same level of persecution as historic Christians or even fellow believers around the world today, we do feel the sting of not being liked. Maybe it has even cost you a promotion at work. Or maybe it has limited the relationships you have with certain people. Some people may just seem to feel the need to always argue with you.
But why does the world seem to hate Christians so much? Our message is one of love. God loved the world so much that he sent his Son to die for us that we might have life. Yet we still seem to rub people the wrong way.
Sometimes, Christians are disliked through no fault of our own. Other times, we needlessly bring it upon ourselves. It takes wisdom and spiritual maturity to know when we’re being hated for the right reasons.
Here are 7 reasons why people hate Christians, some good and some bad.
1. Good Reason: Moral integrity sometimes annoys people.
When I was in elementary school, one kid on the playground never said any curse words. He grew up in a Christian home, and he believed it was deeply wrong to swear.
When some of the other students caught wind of this, they made it their mission in life to get him to say a swear word. They tried everything. They cursed more and more around him. They insulted him—and his mother. They even offered to bribe him with money and snacks if he would just say one curse word. He never did.
I wish I had the same level of moral integrity and fortitude as that kid. He didn’t waver on what he believed. And for some reason, that annoyed the other kids. Maybe it made them feel badly that he wouldn’t sink to their level. Maybe they just thought he was being ridiculous. Whatever the case, they were annoyed by the strength of his convictions.
This happens with believers. Pro-life Christians are often called hateful toward women. Those committed to a biblical sexual ethic are called regressive. Those committed to the fact that we live in a moral world created by God are deemed uneducated or unintelligent.
Strong beliefs, and a strong commitment to living by them, elicits a strong response. And that response isn’t always positive.Strong beliefs, and a strong commitment to living by them, elicits a strong response. Click To Tweet
2. Bad Reason: Christians can be judgmental.
On the other side of this, sometimes Christians are guilty of being judgmental. For some of us, because we are so firmly committed to our beliefs and have experienced a measure of transformation in our lives, tend to think we’re better than other people. After all, we live good Christian lives.
We tend to get arrogant in our convictions, and that makes us look down on other people. People can sense that. They don’t like it, and rightfully so.People can sense when we're looking down on them. They don't like, and rightfully so. Click To Tweet
3. Good Reason: Contentment and confidence sometimes make people uneasy.
Christians ought to be some of the most inwardly peaceful people on the planet. Here’s what Paul says in his letter to the Philippians.
Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)
Once this kind of unshakeable confidence takes root in your heart, it begins to seep out of you. And people notice. Some people might wonder if you’re for real. They also may wonder if you’re just so clueless to the problems of the world. If you really were clued into how dark the world is, why would you be so devoid of cynicism?
Certain people may grow frustrated with you, because they just can’t figure out what makes you tick. Your confidence makes them feel insecure. Your contentment makes them feel envious and confused. Sometimes people lash out at you because they don’t like what they’re seeing in themselves.Sometimes, people lash out at you because they don't like what they're seeing in themselves. Click To Tweet
4. Bad Reason: Christians can be weird.
I love Christians, but we have a tendency to be weird. We have our own language and lingo. We have our own music, our own movies, and they aren’t very good. (Sorry if that hot take offends you.) But we can tend to become isolated from the rest of the world.
And the longer we stay in our “holy huddles,” the more bizarre we become to the unbelievers around us. It’s quite common for followers of Jesus to not have many, if any, significantly close relationships with nonbelievers.
Now, to a certain measure, we should be weird. But the things that should be noticeably weird about us are our unshakeable hope, our undying faith, and our selfless love for each other and the world.
In order for the unbelievers in our neighborhoods, classrooms, and workplaces to come to love us (and, we pray, to love Jesus), they have to know us. We should learn to relate to them on their terms and invite them into our lives. That’s when we break barriers down and give people an opportunity to see who Jesus really is.The longer we stay in our 'holy huddles,' the more bizarre we become to the unbelievers around us. Click To Tweet
5. Good Reason: Christians stand up for the protection of the weak and vulnerable, including the unborn.
Any time you stand up for the protection of the weak and vulnerable, you are doing the work of Jesus. In today’s culture, standing for the rights of unborn children may lead to a large sector of the population hating you—including some notable celebrities.
Try as you might to state your position lovingly and logically, certain people will never listen until God changes their hearts. So until that person has an encounter with Jesus, we must learn to be patient with the hateful things that are said about us when we stand up for what we know to be true.Learn to be patient with the hateful things that are said about you when you stand up for what you know to be true. Click To Tweet
6. Bad Reason: Christians can act hatefully.
Standing up for what is good and true in society is noble. Shouting, insulting, and holding up signs with graphic images of abortions or slurs against the LGBTQ+ community is distasteful. In fact, it’s downright hateful. And Christians do this kind of thing way too often.
We ought to disagree with the unbelieving world where we feel compelled by Scripture and conscience. In some cases, we should disagree very strongly and unequivocally. But the message that should permeate every disagreement is this: “I love you, even though I think you are deeply wrong.”
Without love, we’re no better than those who act hatefully toward us. We can’t say we’re being persecuted for the cause of Christ when we ourselves are standing in hate. Jesus didn’t come full of hate. He came full of grace and truth. That’s the line we walk.Without love we're no better than those who act hatefully toward us. Click To Tweet
7. The Best Reason: Christians love their God too much.
Daniel was an influential government official, and the other officials in the empire couldn’t stand how much God seemed to bless everything he did. So they conspired to find a way to bring him down.
Here’s what they came up with.
At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.” (Daniel 6:4-5)
The only thing they could think to use against Daniel was his devotion to God. In every other aspect of life, he was unassailable. There was no way they could bring him down.
May the same be said of us. We don’t want to set any unnecessary stumbling blocks to the good news of Jesus. May the only complaint that can legitimately be levied against us be that we love our God too much.May the only complaint that can legitimately be levied against us be that we love our God too much. Click To Tweet
We are engaged in a spiritual battle.
The reason why we feel this pressure as Christians is because we are in the midst of a spiritual battle.
Jesus once said that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. We often take comfort in that statement as we imagine ourselves hunkered down, yet surviving the demonic onslaught. But that isn’t the image Jesus is painting.
When Jesus speaks about the gates of hell not prevailing, the image is not of protection but of conquest. The Church is on a mission not only to survive the darkness of this world, but to cast it out entirely.
The kingdom of darkness will not prevail against the Kingdom that Jesus brings. The Kingdom of light and life will come and destroy darkness and death. This is our mission.
And since that’s our mission, we can expect to ruffle a few feathers along the way. But take heart. Our victory is sure, and our God is good. The love of Jesus is far more powerful than hatred ever could be.The love of Jesus is far more powerful than hatred could ever be. Click To Tweet
A version of this article originally appeared here.