Summary: Using the backdrop of the hatred that resulted in the terrorism attacks on America, this sermon asks why anyone would hate Christians?
OPEN: I remember when I was in 2nd grade. I was in class the day that it was announced to us that the President of the United States had been assassinated. A sniper had murdered John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas, and the nation was in tumult. I remember many things about that day. The way the class looked, the desks all in their rows and the blackboard at the front. It is burned in my memory along with the feelings that I experienced that day and the questions that went through my mind.
(at this point, I gave the audience an opportunity to share how they felt when they 1st heard of the terrorist bombings in New York and Washington D.C.)
My feelings, when I first heard about the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were: "It’s not fair. It’s not right. Those people didn’t deserve to die" But they did die. They died because a group of people so hated the United States that they didn’t care who they hurt, or who they killed, as long as they were able to make their statement about the anger they felt towards our nation. That kind of hatred is hard to imagine. It’s difficult to explain.
It’s true, we’d been warned that terrorists had targeted our nation and were capable of great evil, but it still was still hard to understand
Centuries ago, Jesus predicted that His followers would also become objects of hatred. In John 15:18 & 19 Jesus said: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you."
Down thru history, Jesus has been proven right time and time again. Christians have died in the coliseum. They’ve been fed to the lions. Burnt at the stake. Sold into slavery. Or have had all their worldly possessions taken away.
The writer of Hebrews reminds the Christians of his day to: "Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions." Hebrews 10:32-34
Even today, Christians are still being persecuted. Just recently, in Afghanistan, 10 believers were arrested for sharing their faith and of this date they are still in prison and face the real possibility of death.
In the Sudan, Christians have been frequently harassed, family members have been kidnapped, and many have been sold into slavery or died under the butchery of those who disagreed with them.
In China, Bible based churches often are forced to worship to worship underground, behind closed doors. In some parts of this world, it is a dangerous thing to be a Christian.
To a lesser degree, Christians often face persecution even here in the US.
Michael Medved (a well known - and Jewish born - movie reviewer) tells of a conversation he had with a fellow movie reviewer over how they should rate "The Last Temptation of Christ." Not only was the movie a slanderous attack on Christianity, but apparently it was also a mediocre movie at best. The other reviewer, however, confided in Medved that it was important that they give this movie a high rating. "We need to stand together against the Christians," he said.
In 1998, David & Diane Reiter of Denver were ordered by that city to stop their weekly home prayer meetings because a city administrator determined he didn’t want any religious activities in their neighborhood
In 1999, in Seattle, Washington, a pregnant 25 year old woman was kicked off a public transit bus in the pouring rain. Why? Because the bus driver overheard her talking with a fellow passenger about the Lord.
Just recently, our youth minister, Brad was telling me of how exciting it was to have over 60 students in the High School meeting before class for a morning prayer meeting. But already some people have begun to complain to the school office for this supposed violation of the separation of church and state.
Now I know, Jesus told us this would happen. He told us this is what we could expect. The Apostle John wrote to the church of his day: "Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you." 1 John 3:13
(pause) BUT I AM SURPRISED
We shouldn’t be surprised, Jesus warned us ahead of time - but I am surprised. It’s just not fair. It’s not right. It shouldn’t be happening.