How to Beat the Haters
They had never met before. The dislike in her eyes was palpable.
She was in the elevator when my wife stepped in. Kathy smiled at her and said, “Good morning!” The woman stared coolly at her and said nothing in reply. Undeterred, Kathy looked for a way to engage in conversation. The woman wore animal print tennis shoes and my wife commented warmly that she liked her shoes. “…they’re very cute.” she said with a smile. The woman, a hotel employee, sniffed in indignation. Then silence. When the doors opened the employee slowly exited the elevator without a backward glance, carrying her animosity with her.
Hate boils over, infecting every corner of culture:
- Radicals vandalizing Pro-life centers.
- Children shooting other children.
- White supremacists vomiting hate. Angry blacks spewing hate in response.
- Trans folks publicly advocating vengeance.
- Self-righteous Christians condemning pagans for acting like—pagans.
- Politicians stoking hate, verbally beating up fellow Americans as fascists, Nazis, racists, misogynists, or deplorables.
- College students physically assaulting visiting speakers.
- There is plenty of blame to go around. We see it every day.
A lot of people ask, what is the answer to all the venomous hate swirling around us? I think the better question is, what is God’s solution to hate?
No, my friends, God’s solution to the hate is YOU!
God gave YOU the power to be the solution.
God gave YOU the power to change the course of history!
And yes, I literally mean to change the course of history.
I don’t care whether you are white, black, brown or green. I don’t care if you are the President, a waitress, a PhD, or a janitor. Your skin color or your day job makes little difference. If you follow Jesus, you are God’s answer to hate.
On Good Friday, two thousand years ago, the future of the small band of Jesus’ disciples looked grim. Hate had nailed their beloved Rabbi to a cross and threatened all who followed Him. They were scared and fled into hiding. Three days later, the resurrection changed everything. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, those men and women began to change the course of history.
But how did that small group grow to the point that Christianity ultimately came to dominate the Roman Empire? Was it the preaching of the gospel? Most Christians think so. But they are wrong.
Christianity spread relationally, virally, person to person. Scholars have now shown this to be the primary method of transmission. The evidence is so overwhelming that even pastor, Tim Keller, said, “The gospel was spread in the early church by personal conversations and life examples. Not through programs, not even through preachers.”
God’s solution for secular culture is YOU! But in order to understand how you are the solution, we must go back the beginning when Jesus first gave us God’s strategy.
Jesus’ parting words in Matthew 28:18-20 were:
“’All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’” (NIV)
Who was Jesus talking to? His disciples.
What did he tell them to do? Go make more disciples.
How were they supposed to do that? Baptizing and teaching “everything I have commanded you.”
And what did he just command his disciples to do? Go make disciples.
In other words, every true disciple of Jesus is a discipler of disciplers. Every disciple of Jesus is a discipler who disciples disciples to be disciplers. The goal is not to create a disciple; the goal is to create a discipler. I call this discipleRship; the goal is to always create more disciplers. Discipleship is multiplication! That was and is God’s strategy for changing the course or world history. Whether you are a Christian or a Bolshevik, there is no more effective strategy on earth.
Let’s look an example of what this looked like in Acts 19:8-10:
“Paul entered the synagogue and spoke boldly there for three months, arguing persuasively about the kingdom of God. But some of them became obstinate; they refused to believe and publicly maligned the Way. So Paul left them. He took the disciples with him and had discussion daily in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.” (NIV)
Did you catch what happened?
Paul preached for three months, and then discipled the believers in Ephesus for two years. During those two years, “every Jew and Greek” in the province of Asia heard about Jesus. The province of Asia was about the size of the state of Connecticut. But, as far as we know, Paul never left Ephesus. So how did Paul do it?
First, we know Ephesus was the second largest city in the Roman Empire. was a port city. It was where all trade transitioned from land to sea (or vice versa). It sat astride the chokepoint of all east/west trade, stretching from the city of Rome to China.
It seems clear that the people Paul discipled were business people. Traders. After Paul discipled them, they fanned out across Asia, talking about their relationship with Jesus wherever they went. Paul replicated and multiplied himself through his disciples to the entire Roman province of Asia.
But, it didn’t stop there. It kept spreading virally. History tells us what happened. By 300 AD, two-thirds of the city of Rome were Christians. By 350 AD, fifty-two percent of the Roman Empire identified as Christian. By 380 AD, Christianity became the official religion of Rome.
What is most telling (and surprising) is, if you go through the graveyards of the Roman Empire from around the year 400 AD, most of the gravestones bore Christian names. When a person became a follower of Jesus, the took on a Christian name. Fifty percent of the men had Christian names. However, eighty-five percent of the women had Christian names.
Does that give you a hint as to how to turn America back to God? It’s not through preaching; not everyone can preach. It’s through relationship; everyone can build relationships. However, woman are especially adept at relationship building—because of their intrinsic God-given wiring from the womb. Women were God’s primary vehicle for spreading the gospel in the Roman Empire.
Does that mean men aren’t necessary? Of course not! But men have to be more intentional because building deep relationships doesn’t usually come naturally to most males.
Let me show you the power of this strategy, which Jesus gave us. Let’s say that you introduce one person to Christ this year, and disciple/mentor him or her in how to follow Jesus. Then next year you both repeat the process with two more people. By the end of the second year there are four of you. The third year, each of the four lead someone to Christ and disciple them, resulting in eight people. Using this strategy, how long will it take you to reach and disciple everyone in America for Jesus Christ? Twenty-eight years.
However, assuming 1,000 Christians started following Jesus’ strategy today, how long it would it take to reach and disciple everyone in America? Only 18 years. The point is it can happen in your lifetime!
In Ephesus, it all began with Paul discipling (mentoring) the small band of believers. Have you ever been fully discipled to the point you could do what Paul’s disciples did? If not, I am going to make a suggestion at the end of this article.
You see, the problem in America today is not that there is too much darkness. The problem is not that there are too many haters. The problem is that there is not enough light. That’s where you and I come in. It’s not your pastor’s job to shine the love of Christ in your neighborhood. It is yours. It’s mine.
Do you want to help change America? Do you want your sons and daughters and grandchildren to experience the full blessings of a land of opportunity? You can—if you do it the way Jesus commanded. God’s solution for HATE is you.
Unfortunately, most Christians in America are not shining their light in the darkness. The problem is not fear—or busyness. The stumbling block is that, unlike the Federal Government, you can’t give away what you don’t own. Let me explain.
Do you let your circumstances determine how you see God, or does your view of God determine how you see your circumstances? Your answer will affect how brightly your light will shine in the darkness. How you see God is the difference between peace or fear, joy or depression. How you see God controls how brightly your light can shine.
Do you know what the primary purpose of the Bible is? It is to teach us who God is. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to us.
The first step in discipleship/mentorship is to discover who God really is and why it matters in your life every minute of every day. If you have never done a study on the character and nature of God, let me strongly encourage you to do so. Preferably with a friend or a group of friends. Your faith will never exceed your view of God. If you have a small view of God, you will have limited faith. As your view of God grows, so does your faith. It is simple cause and effect.
A number of years ago, my dad wrote a book on the attributes of God entitleed, God, Who Are You Anyway?I encourage you to order a copy either on Amazon or at BrightMedia.org.
Read the book with at least one other person (if possible) and ask the “so what” questions. Questions like:
Why do I even want God to be holy? If God is holy is there any hope for me?
Why do I want God to be perfectly just? Why doesn’t He grade on a curve?
The Bible says, “God is love.” What does that really mean?
I’d love to hear from you afterward, to hear how it made a difference in your life.
A number of years ago I gave my dad’s book to a highly successful attorney who came up to me after a meeting and started recounting to me about all the awful decisions he had made in his personal life. Mired in guilt, he was desperate for a lifeline. I gave him a copy of my dad’s book on the character and nature of God. Six months later I ran into him at another meeting. He was beaming from ear to ear. He went from being part of the problem, to being part of the solution.
You too can be a vital part of the solution. You can become God’s solution to Hate. The problem is not your behavior; the problem is with what you love. Jesus said, love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Only then will you develop the capacity to love your neighbor as yourself. It all begins with discovering more deeply who God really is. Once you do, you will find yourself transforming in response. I promise.
Ask God to help you know Him better every day. Then spend the next year helping someone else do the same. Together, let’s turn up His light!
Remember, God is the issue—in every issue.
By Brad Bright
©2023 Brad Bright. All rights reserved.