By Jonathan Brentner
Did you know that hatred is a sign of the last days?
In Matthew 24:9-10 Jesus said this, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.” Amidst all the other signs of which we are so familiar, Jesus lists hatred, particularly against His followers, as an indication of the end times.
Today, see hatred everywhere in our world. Opponents of Christianity killed an estimated 90,000 believers in 2016 and opposition to our faith has not diminished since then. Anti-Semitism is epidemic across Europe that has led to many Jews fearing for their lives, especially in France.
The apostle Paul, in 2 Timothy 3:1-5, describes the godlessness of the last days. Although he does not use the word hatred, he aptly describes the divisive, angry, and intolerable culture of our day.
It Begins with Arrogance
The hatred we see permeating our society starts in the heart. William Barclay, famous New Testament commentator, put it this way, “But the sin of the man who is arrogant is in his heart. He might even seem to be humble; but in his secret heart there is contempt for everyone else. He nourishes an all-consuming, all-pervading pride; and in his heart there is a little altar where he bows down before himself.”
Does not Barclay’s definition of one who is arrogant (2 Tim. 3:2) capture what we are seeing today? It’s not enough to have an opinion, but today it so often comes with spiteful “contempt” for all those who disagree. It’s this pride that leads so many to ridicule those with whose opinions they disagree.
The craft of making a well-reasoned case for one’s point of view has degenerated into the art of personally destroying one’s political opponent. Arrogance breeds a sense that “of course those who think differently than me cannot be right; therefore, I am justified in using whatever means necessary to destroy my opponent.”
It’s all about the politics of personal destruction at the expense of truth or at least an informed debate.
Abusive and Slanderous
The next word in Paul’s list after “arrogant” is “abusive.” This word denotes someone who insults God as well as other men and women. It’s the verbal expression of contempt that begins in the heart of one who is arrogant that finds its expression in slandering the good name of others.
The most common derogatory label today is “racism.” If someone does not agree with this person’s point of view, he or she must be a “racist” or a “bigot’ or possess some dark and evil phobia. Political victories today are often measured in one’s ability to convince the majority that one’s opponent is a racist, even if you must lie about what was said behind closed doors, overlook the past, or distort the facts to prove racism on the part of one’s opponent.
Did I mention that Paul also used the word “brutal” to describe people living in the last days?
In verse 3, the apostle depicts people during the last days as “slanderous.” We live in a day where false accusations are the norm rather than the exception. A recent news article told of one attorney who sought to give large sums of money to women who would accuse President Trump of sexual harassment or worse.
Daymond Duck, one of my favorite writers on the Rapture Ready website, said this, “Sexual harassment and racism are definitely wrong, but character assassination to silence a person that someone disagrees with is also wrong. Slandering people, ruining their reputation, calling them names, and getting them fired is not of God.” Blasphemy of God and others is the order of the day in our society.
How Should We Respond?
First, I believe our response must be one of respect for the opinions of others. Just because we vehemently disagree with someone does not mean we cannot value their opinions or ideas. It’s sometimes difficult for me to argue my case without getting carried away, but I must remember that I can be confident of what I believe without impugning the intelligence of others or insulting them.
Secondly, we must understand the times in which we live. We are living in the last days of human history as we know them; the dark days of the tribulation are rapidly approaching. What we see in our world is precisely what the Lord Jesus said would happen during this time; it should not surprise us.
Our focus must be on bringing others to the Savior rather than convincing them of our political agenda. I have reached the conclusion that I really do not care what others think of President Trump. What matters is drawing people to the Savior, not to my assessment of the President.
And lastly, there is the aspect of humility. This does not mean compromising beliefs or telling someone they may be right when what they believe contradicts Scripture.
For me, it starts with recognizing that the source of truth is not in me or even in my ability to recognize it. It starts with Jesus, my risen Savior. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” and rose from the dead to prove that His words, His claims are true.
The beliefs that I cherish start with Scripture, and my confidence does not come from my abilities to reason or debate but from Jesus and what the Lord reveals through His word. Yes, the world will hate me for my beliefs on abortion, same sex marriage, gender identification, Islam, and the like, but such hatred is exactly what Jesus said would happen, especially in the last days before His return to earth.
What I see in the world around me saddens my heart. People are becoming increasingly vicious and cruel in their blasphemy of both Christ and His followers. But I also know a much better day is coming with Jesus’ peace, and righteousness will reign supreme over the entire world.
In the meantime, we may endure increased persecution and lose much. Even then, we must stand up for the truth and set our sights on the joys of eternity before us.
Jonathan C. Brentner