Christians tend to write off their spiritual opponents as uneducated Neanderthals. But not all men and women oppose the gospel because their gospel experience mimics a cave-men’s interaction with fire. The idea that morality is directly linked to knowledge originated with philosophers like Plato who advocated for better education in his various dialogues. The Scriptures paint a different picture of bad behavior. In 1 Samuel 18, Saul fears and attempts to kill David because he understands revelation. He gets the David has been appointed to succeed him by the special revelation of God and he tries to kill David.
Non-believers often hate Christians precisely because they understand the gospel. They understand that their Bible says they are sinners in desperate need of a savior. They understand that Jesus is good, loving, and all powerful. But instead of selling out and following the savior like Jonathan did, they attempt to kill and overthrow Jesus. They become Jesus’s enemy for the same reason, “Saul was David’s enemy continually (1 Sam 18:28).” The want to rule their life and will not submit to the God of the universe whom they have seen from afar. The great Welsh pastor of yesteryear, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones said,
The Pharisees and other others hated [Jesus] because of His utter, absolute holiness and righteousness, and truth. And this is why you find gentle, lovingly, lovable people…suffering terrible and bitter persecution sometimes at the hands of ostensible Christians.
The world often hates Jesus, David and ultimately us because it understands our gospel. Jesus says in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”
The world despises us precisely because it knows us, our savior, and our message. Our kids mock our faithful church attendance because they don’t think the cross really can save sinners. Our coworkers right us off as goodie-goodies who can contribute little the rugged business world because they think Jesus’s methods of peace and holiness demonstrate weakness. And, our friends deride us for not getting drunk with them because they despise Jesus’ teaching that joy comes through obedience to God. People can quote the Bible and still hate it.
Persecution is not some anomaly driven by ignorance of the divine. It is the norm for the people of God because they live in a world dominated by those who understand and hate God. The solution for persecution is not knowledge. Getting your persecutor to Sunday school will not make them believe.
Faith is the answer. Faithfully bear witness to the truth and pray for God to open the eyes of your persecutors. Faith comes through knowledge accompanied by spiritual enlightenment through the Holy Spirit. The spirit opens dark eyes through words on the printed page. When life is full of persecution do not depend on education programs, depend upon the Lord! Mimic David and faithfully love and obey others, trusting God to defend you. God saved David from Saul’s Spear and he will keep your soul from destruction. Even educated anger cannot separate you from the love of God!