“Blessed are you when men hate you.” The Lord desired that we should leap for joy in persecutions, because when they occur, then are given crowns of faith, then the soldiers of God are proved, and the heavens opened. He will confess those before His Father who confess Him, and will deny those who deny Him, therefore, be not moved. (The Epistle to Thibaris, Cyprian, ca. 200-258)
The Eastern Church, in which Cyprian is a primary figure, sees the life of the Christian as one of being formed into the shape of the God-man Jesus. The name given to this shaping is “deification,” or being made partakers in the divine. According to Cyprian, a major catalyst in this process is the hatred we experience from others for who we are in Christ. He repeatedly quotes the Lord who frequently addressed the subject, and then reminds us that this very contest between the haters and the hated is the means appointed by God for being drawn into Him. And the victory is attained by joyful trust as we are being destroyed. If Cyprian were around today he might teach a class on smiling as you are destroyed for Christ sake, and find that no one would show up.