• Keith Mathison

The World's Hatred is not a Guarantee that You are Following Jesus

There seems to be a common misconception among many Christians that if the world hates them, it’s incontrovertible proof that they must be doing something right. They must be faithfully following Jesus.

It is true that the world hates those whom Christ has chosen out of this world (John 15:18–25). It is true that the world hates Christians because it hates Christ.

The problem is that many Christians commit a logical fallacy when thinking about this issue. They assume that if the world hates them, then it must be the case that they are faithfully following Jesus. Let me lay out the statements to make this easier to see.

True Conditional Statement

If you faithfully follow Jesus, then the world will hate you. (If P, therefore Q).

Logically Fallacious Conclusion

The world hates me, therefore I must be faithfully following Jesus (Q, therefore P).

This logical fallacy is known as “affirming the consequent.” The fallacy is relatively easy to grasp if we use a different example. The following, for example, is a true conditional statement: “If it rains on your driveway, then your driveway will be wet.” It is not true, however, to conclude, “My driveway is wet, therefore, it must have rained on my driveway.” We know this conclusion doesn’t follow because we know there are other possible explanations for the wet driveway. Someone may have just pressure-washed it. The lawn sprinkler system may have made the driveway wet. The children may have been playing with the water hose.

Similarly, even though it is true that if you faithfully follow Jesus, then the world will hate you, it does not follow from this that if the world hates you, you are faithfully following Jesus. You might be, but there are other possible explanations for the hatred as well. People might hate us simply because we are being obnoxious. There are a number of possibilities.

I mention this because too many Christians behave and speak obnoxiously at times, and then when the world responds with hatred, we automatically attribute that hatred to our faithfulness to Christ. I know I’ve been guilty of speaking in an obnoxious way at times. If I do that, I shouldn't be surprised at a negative response.

Sins of the tongue are among the most common and the most deadly of sins as Scripture indicates. Regardless of how common these sins are, they remain sins, and we cannot forget that. They are to be put to death, and that can be difficult to do if we confuse them with being faithful followers of Christ simply because both can lead to the hatred of the world.