By: Jon Meerdink
Every so often, I’ll watch a political speech or hear a sound bite or read an article about a candidate and think to myself, “man, I could do that.” It’s sometimes a tempting career option: you’re a relatively famous, influential person working to make actual change in the world. But as soon as I think that, I inevitably remember that for every person who supports your candidacy or legislation, chances are there’s another who can’t stand you and will do everything they can to prevent you from succeeding at your job.
Case in point: this week, Mitt Romney picked Paul Ryan as his vice presidential running mate. This is a big deal on the political scene, but it’s an even bigger deal for me because I happen to live in Paul Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. Over the last few days, it’s been an absolute circus here as people try to find out everything they can about the country’s newest political star. Let me assure you of one thing: they’re not trying to find the happy stuff.
I certainly understand the political strategy behind finding dirt on your opponent, but what strikes me is how many people seem to honestly take it to heart. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to find someone willing to write an article detailing the fullness of their hatred for a man they’ve never met and only know through the opinions of other people.
It’s a disgusting thing to see, and I hate that we have a system that more or less encourages it on both sides of the political aisle. But here’s the thing: as Christians, Jesus tells us we’re going to face even worse than what anyone in the political arena can throw at us.
Jesus may have been the incarnate Son of God, but he wasn’t the most popular guy in the world. It seems like from the moment he began his ministry, people were scheming to kill him in whatever way they could. Jesus healed the sick, fed the hungry, restored limbs, and brought dead people back to life, but people still hated his every move because he was a threat to their power.
What’s more, Jesus knew that those same people wouldn’t stop hating the message. Speaking of the future, Jesus told his disciples (and by extension, us) “All men will hate you because of me” (Matthew 10:22a) and “I have chosen you out of this world. That is why they hate you.” (John 15:22) He didn’t say they “might” hate them or “could” hate them. Jesus said if we’re disciples, everyone is going to hate us.
Unlike running for political office, though, there’s no chance for us to avoid this criticism. We’re in this fight for life, so we’d be well served to steel ourselves for the hate to come. While what we face in America may pale in comparison to the rest of the world, there’s no question that our beliefs are increasingly being pushed to the margins of American society. That trend will almost certainly not be reversing any time soon.
But no matter what we may face, we can’t be afraid to live in a world that hates us. The people dishing out the hate are lost, broken individuals just like us. The only thing that can change what they do is the grace of God, and it’s up to us to show them.