This post is an excerpt from Billy Graham’s book The Secret of Happiness.
Here is a spiritual law which is as unchangeable as the law of gravity: “All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).
We must get this fact firmly fixed in our minds: we live in an upside-down world. People hate when they should love, they quarrel when they should be friendly, they fight when they should be peaceful, they wound when they should heal, they steal when they should share, they do wrong when they should do right.
I once saw a toy clown with a weight on its head. No matter what position you put it in, it invariably assumed an upside-down position. Put it on its feet or on its side, and when you let go it flipped back on its head.
In our unregenerate state we are just like that! Do what you may with us, we always revert to an upside-down position. From childhood to maturity we are always prone to do what we should not do and to refrain from doing what we ought to do. that is our nature. We have too much weight in the head and not enough ballast in our hearts, so we flip upside down when left alone.
That is why the disciples to the world were misfits. To an upside-down man, a right-side-up man seems upside down. To the nonbeliever, the true Christian is an oddity and an abnormality. A Christian’s goodness is a rebuke to his wickedness [emphasis added – this is a good portion to quote]; his being right side up is a reflection upon the worldling’s inverted position. So the conflict is a natural one. Persecution is inevitable.
When Christ’s disciples began preaching that Jesus was the Christ, the people cried in consternation, “These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also” (Acts 17:6). Herein lies the fundamental reason for Christian persecution. Christ’s righteousness is so revolutionary and so contradictory to man’s manner of living that it invokes the enmity of the world.
If we could assume that people were basically upright, then it would be the popularly accepted thing to “live godly in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:12). But as long as Satan is loose in the world and our hearts are dominated by his evil passions, it will never be easy or popular to be a follower of Christ.
The Bible says: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims…” (1 Peter 2:9-11).
Aliens are rarely shown the “welcome mat.” They are often accepted only with a tongue-in-cheek attitude. Being aliens, with our citizenship not in the world but in heaven, we as Christ’s followers will frequently be treated as “peculiar people” and as strangers.
Our life is not of this world. “Our conversation is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Our interests, primarily, are not in this world. Jesus said: “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven…for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:20, 21). Our hope is not in this world. The Bible says: “We look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20, 21).
Hence, in every sense we are an enigma to the world. Like a few right-handed persons among a host of left-handed persons, we comprise a threat to their status quo. We cramp their style. We are labeled as “wet blankets,” as kill-joys, and as prudes. Like the enemies of Jesus, the world still inquires contemptuously, “Art not thou also one of his disciples?” (John 18:25).
– Billy Graham