“But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.”-John 15:21
Why do people hate Jesus and his followers? Jesus’s message—to love God and love others—in and of itself does not seem particularly countercultural and yet, it often confronts religious and non-religious ideologies alike.
In Jesus’s time, the scribes and Pharisees had definite ideas about the practice of religion. They believed they knew God’s law and kept it better than anyone else. They viewed themselves as the gatekeepers in God’s kingdom—and they allowed very few in. Nowadays, the legalists keep watch at the gate. If we accept their interpretations of the Bible, we may be allowed in, but once we make it through the gate, we find ourselves walking a precariously narrow rope.
On the other hand, non-religious people often live for pleasure and self-satisfaction. When Jesus told his followers that to truly love, they must lay down their lives for others, it ran contrary to hedonism, which is why hatred comes from both sides.
Jesus, the kingdom life is countercultural. Neither legalism nor hedonism represent your plan; rather, you have called me to the Jesus Way. Keep my feet upon the path and when I stray, bring me back again. Amen.