I n the first week of Advent it is customary to emphasize hope and prophecy. We find these two ideas converge in the first prophecy of hope recorded in the Bible. In the book of Genesis it says, And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel (Genesis 3:15 NKJV). It is ironic these words were directed at the serpent who had been used by Satan to lead Eve and Adam into sin.
Yet, this curse upon the serpent was a prophecy and a source of hope for old covenant believers. It is a clear announcement that the seed of the woman would one day overcome the serpent. As prophecy, we understand this as a reference to Jesus the Christ who definitively crushed the serpent’s head in his life, death, resurrection and ascension to the right-hand of the Father. As a source of hope, this passage tells the people of God to hope for enmity, hope for the Messiah and hope for victory.
It may seem strange to suggest that followers of Yahweh should hope for enmity. However, the enmity we hope for is the result of the sharp difference between truth and lies. Those who consistently walk in the ways of God will be very different than people who embrace the way of the world. The Bible tells us, to reject God’s way is to embrace a “wisdom” that is earthly, sensual and demonic (James 3:15). Jesus told his apostles they should not marvel when the world hates them because the world hates him. (John 15:18-20). In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul said the carnal mind is at enmity with God and James tells us that to be friends with the world is to be at enmity with God (Romans 8:7, James 4:4).
Therefore, followers of God should hope for enmity between them and the world because it is evidence they are walking in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. And “he who says he abides in Jesus ought himself also to walk just as he walked” (1 John 2:6). If there is no enmity toward us on the part of the world it means we are not doing a good job expressing the character of Jesus Christ.
Now, I’m not suggesting Christians should be obnoxious and seek to stir up strife. I am saying that when a Christian lives in a Christlike fashion, the world (those who reject Jesus) will find that Christian offensive. They will look for every opportunity to ridicule the consistent Christian and will accuse him of intolerance and bigotry because he refuses to compromise his beliefs. The Christian who is laboring to live a Christlike life will respond to these attacks by speaking the truth in love. They will not attack the person but will gently point out the inconsistency in their worldview. They will not ridicule their attackers but will look for ways to serve them as an expression of Christ. Remember, Jesus did not spew venom at his enemies while he hung upon the cross but prayed to the Father that they might be forgiven.
In this first week of Advent I encourage you to embrace a “hope for enmity.” In other words, I encourage you to live a Christlike life – a life that will reveal the stark difference between the kingdom of light and a kingdom of darkness. I encourage you to live in such a way that those who reject the gospel will hate you in the same way – and for the same reasons – they hate Jesus Christ. Then, the enmity the world shows you will be evidence you are doing what is right.