Are You Hated?

Thursday, May 4, 2017, 2:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Were You There?” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 15:18-25 (ESV).

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”

If the World Hates You

Does the world hate you, or does it love you? So many people think that the mark of a good Christian is that he or she is loved and admired by everyone. But, is that true? It could be absolutely the opposite. People could love you, not because you are a true follower of Christ, but because you don’t make waves, and you fit in with the world, and you blend in with society, and because you are more of a people pleaser rather than a God pleaser. You say what you know people want to hear, rather than what they need to hear. You want to be liked by people more than you want to be approved by God. And, so you say what you know will get you liked, more than you will say what will lead people to genuine faith in Jesus Christ.

But, Jesus said that if you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but he chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. So, what do we take away from this? Does this describe us? You? Me? If so, which part?

The phrase “the world” is not speaking of human beings, who we are to love, but rather of the things (stuff, possessions), attitudes, values, principles, culture, behaviors and philosophies of the world of sin. So, what does it mean to be “of the world”? To be of the world means we belong to the world, that we are participants of what the world is offering us. It means we adopt into our lives the attitudes, values, behaviors, etc. of the world of sin. There is not much of a distinction between us, who call ourselves Christians, and those who make no claims to faith in Christ at all. And, that is a very sad reality, but it is where a lot of people are, who claim Christ as Savior.

But, Jesus called us out of the world, meaning we are to be separate from (different, unlike) the world of sin. This is what it means to be holy. We are not supposed to adopt the ways of the world, or to join with them in their revelries (unruly, ungodly, idolatrous, immoral living) and their debauchery (wickedness, depravity). If we are born again believers in Jesus Christ, Jesus delivered us out from bondage (addiction) to sin and from the power (control) Satan had over our lives, and he freed us to walk (in lifestyle) in his righteousness (purity, morality, honesty, etc.). So, we are to be those who practice righteousness, i.e. what is approved in the eyes of the Lord.

So, if we truly have come out of the world, and the lives we are now living are clearly separate from the world, including from the worldliness existing within the church, and if we are now walking in the Spirit, and not according to the flesh, we should be hated by those who are still one with the world, whether they claim to be Christians or not. This means we will even be hated by pastors, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers, small group leaders and members of churches who are still of the world. They will reject us, speak evil against us, cast us aside, tell us we “don’t fit,” and that we need to go “someplace else.” If we are not hated, though, and everyone loves us, then maybe we should ask ourselves and the Lord why this is so.

Jesus, Our Example

Who were Jesus’ greatest persecutors? They were the religious leaders in God’s temple. And, why did they hate Jesus? Because he didn’t fit, either. He wasn’t like them. He was different. He was separate. He didn’t blend in. He didn’t belong, because he was like his Father. And, he did say what people NEEDED to hear rather than what they WANTED to hear. And, they didn’t like it, because they wanted to continue living like they were. Jesus walked in holiness and righteousness, and that was an offense to the hypocritical religious leaders in the temple, who looked good on the outside, for everyone’s approval, but who were living wickedly behind closed doors.

So, if the world or the worldly church hates us, we are to know that they hated Jesus first, so we are in good company. If they persecuted Jesus, which is what they did, then we should expect to be persecuted, too, if we are walking in his holiness, and if we are not of the world. Yet, if they listened to Jesus, and if they kept his words, and we are preaching (teaching) his words (his truths), then they should listen to us, too. Yet, when we are persecuted, if we are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake, then we should be comforted with knowing this is happening to us on account of the name of Jesus and on account of the gospel of our salvation.

Guilty of Sin

The Bible teaches us that all have sinned and have come up short of attaining God’s divine approval (Ro. 3:23). It says that when we are born into this world, we are born with sin natures, and that we are under the curse of death because of our sin (Gal. 3:10-13; Ro. 8:2). It also says that God has revealed himself to all humankind through his created works, so that no one has an excuse for not worshiping, honoring and obeying God (Ro. 1:18-32). So, apart from faith in Jesus Christ, through which he forgives, purifies and delivers us from slavery to sin, and sets us free from the law of sin and death, we are all declared guilty of sin.

So, when Jesus stated that, if he had not come, and if he had not spoken to the Jews, in particular, that they would not have been guilty of sin, he was speaking specifically of the sins of the rejection of himself and of their hatred and persecution of him, I believe. But, now that they knew the truth, for he had revealed himself to them, and he had revealed to them the truth of the gospel, they were without excuse. Not only did they hate and reject and persecute him, but they, by proxy, also hated God the Father.

So it is with us today, I believe. We who have been given much, of us much will be required (Luke 12:48). We are accountable for what knowledge we have been given. We, in America, in particular, have been so blessed with so much, not just materially, but with much spiritually, too. We have open and free access to Bibles, Bible study materials, devotionals, sermons, hymns, spiritual songs, and Bible studies, etc. Not everything which is available is of God, though, nor does it all honor God or teach the truth, so we must be very discerning. Yet, we have been very blessed, and thus we are responsible for what we have been given, and for what we have been taught, so that we are without excuse if we do not adhere to what we know.

Yet, God’s Word must be fulfilled. Even though the Jews had no excuse for their sin of rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, it was the will of God that Jesus should suffer and die for our sins. His Word had to be fulfilled which stated that Jesus would be hated without a cause. And, his Word also says that we, too, will be hated and persecuted as he was, so this, too, must be fulfilled. We, if we are walking in his righteousness and holiness, and we are living separate from the world of sin, will also be hated without a cause. People will hate us just because of what we stand for, and because our lifestyles stand in stark contrast to theirs, and so they will find offense in us and in the way in which we choose to live our lives. And, many will hate and persecute us and even put us to death because we follow Jesus Christ.

Were You There? / An American Spiritual / 1899

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid him in the tomb?

Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?
Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when God raised him from the tomb?

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