Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him. –1 John 3:13-15
Tuesday morning, I sat in a hotel restaurant in Nashville, watching as some ninety high-school musicians milled about. Although most of the kids, a band traveling from Toronto, looked relatively distinctive, two of them stood out for me.
One I labeled “The Captain.” He covered his red hair with a ball cap that read “Captain.” He wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt, both plaid and terribly mismatched. The Captain always had a swirl of crew around him. Clearly this was a personality to be reckoned with.
My second favorite had blue hair–not the naturally occurring sort you sometimes find on older women–that stood straight up on one side, as if she had dipped her hair into blue-colored glue and then taken a nap. She also wore a sort of tutu skirt that stood out from her hips a good twelve inches. I called her “The Ballerina.”
After breakfast, the kids brought a veritable mountain of luggage into the lobby. They then stood about in the gaps between piles of bags and talked. A rather timid hotel employee came up behind a group who blocked the only route to the front desk and freedom. “Excuse me,” he said quietly. “Excuse me.” They ignored him.
“That means we’re going to knock you down if you don’t get out of the way,” I blustered. They gave me that teenage-disdain look and shuffled aside.
I tell this tale not to ridicule teens. They do a fine enough job of that themselves. What I would ridicule is the notion that these kids were particularly odd. They were teens being teens. Yes, they dressed funny. Yes, they prattled on about nothing nonstop. Yes, they failed to pay attention to their impact on the world around them. So what? Are we really surprised?
John, today, points out the unremarkable nature of people hating believers. We shouldn’t be surprised, he tells us, when people hate us. In fact, when unbelievers don’t hate, that is the surprising turn of events. We should not be surprised at anything that sinful, unredeemed people do. He doesn’t say it, but I think it a reasonable extension that we should be surprised at the things that believers do.
Most significantly, I cannot avoid surprise and disgust at some of the things that I do. Unbelievers, like teens, don’t know any better. What’s my excuse?