No one wants to be hated. It is a basic human desire to be loved. But sometimes we need to be willing to do or say things that may not be liked. (How well do parents know this!)
In John’s Gospel, chapter 15, Jesus speaks to his apostles in the moments before his arrest and crucifixion. He knows what is coming. He knows what is going to happen to him, and he knows what is going to happen to each one of his apostles. Jesus is pouring His heart out to them. He, also, warns them.
If the world hates you, realize that it hates me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)
In these few verses, Jesus is bluntly honest with them. “Because…I have chosen you…the world hates you” (19). Indeed, all twelve apostles suffer greatly for spreading the Gospel. Peter and Andrew are crucified. Thomas and Matthew are stabbed to death. Bartholomew is skinned alive! And though John is the only apostle not to be martyred, he survives being boiled, an attempted poisoning, and being exiled on an island. Jesus is not exaggerating when He says that the world would hate them.
But Jesus is not just talking to His apostles. He is warning us, too. If we are true followers of Jesus Christ, if we go out into the world and preach the Gospel, we will be persecuted. Like the Spirit-filled apostles, we cannot be afraid to speak Truth. Whether it likes it or not, the world needs to hear the Truth. So, with love and in humility, we must speak up. And if the world hates us for it, know that it hated Jesus and his apostles first. We are in good company.