I've been wondering in recent times if some of our negative reception as 'christians' in 'the world' has less to do with what Jesus promised, and a whole lot more about creating our own self-fulfilling prophecy.
When I think how much I've heard about expecting to face persecution and hatred from those outside 'the church', I start to wonder if we find exactly what we are looking for.
I guess, what started me thinking was the fact that in embracing my brokenness, and finding healing for the wounding I suffered, I've discovered an unanticipated joy in interacting with others.
These days I live from a place of absolute assurance that God totally loves and embraces me just the way I am. And because I feel so secure and free in God's love, I have found it incredibly easy to reach out to others with that same grace. I find myself loving others with ease. Genuinely delighted in who they are. Seeing them as fellow travellers in life... not potential converts to my way of thinking.
And I've discovered that people who are treated with genuine goodwill will generally respond in kind. You might like to try it some time. Smile at someone as you pass them in the street, or thank someone for a small act of courtesy - not to manufacture any response from them, but to just reach out and say, "Hey, you are valuable!" It's amazing how often they will smile in return - how often you see some spark of joy light up when they are shown that they are seen, that they matter.
So it occurred to me to wonder if, conversely, when we interact with others expecting them to reject and 'persecute' us that's exactly how they respond.
I've seen plenty of 'christians' who seem to take some perverted kind of pleasure or reassurance from eliciting a negative response from others. I've also seen them justify all kinds of nasty behaviour based purely on that type of response. It's as if they go out of their way to be 'hated' because they can then say, "Well, Jesus said the world would hate us." It's treated like proof of their piety.
But, guess what? Sometimes people react angrily to us simply because we've acted like a jerk, not because they hate our 'holiness'.