“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.” John 15:18-19 ESV
If we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and he is Lord of our lives, we are going to be hated, but not just by the world, but by the worldly market-driven church, too, and by its leadership. For, Jesus’ greatest persecutors were not the people out in the world, per se, but they were the leaders in the temple of the one true God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
They were God’s chosen people who he had raised up to be his very own people to give glory to His Name. They were those who he had nurtured, trained, taught, and instructed in the way that they should go. They were those to whom the promise of the Messiah, the Christ, was given. And, from among them Jesus, the Christ, was born into the world.
So, don’t be surprised if your greatest persecution comes, not from the people who make no profession of faith in Jesus Christ, but from those who do profess to believe in the same Jesus you believe in, and who claim to be your brothers and sisters in the Lord.
For, many of them have gone the ways of the world, and they are following a false gospel of men, and so they are rejecting the true gospel and its messengers, too, which means you.
So, those people who are of the world, who have adopted the ways of the world as their own, whether or not they profess faith in Jesus Christ, are going to hate us who are living lives which are separate from the world and unto God.
And, “hate” comes in many different shades, too. It isn’t all violently or vehemently expressed. Sometimes it is expressed through snubbing, gossiping, slandering, rejecting and ostracizing those who are different from them. Sometimes it is expressed through bitterness and jealousy. Sometimes, too, it will come through false accusations and unkind remarks.
But, the clincher here is that, if we are truly following Jesus Christ with our lives, and if truly we have come out from the world and its influences, and we are living lives separate unto God, those who are worldly should hate us and they should be persecuting us. So, if those who are worldly do not hate or persecute us, then perhaps we have not really come out from the world.
“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.” John 15:20-21 ESV
Jesus spoke these words to the 11 of his 12 disciples who were his true followers. He spoke these words to them after Judas had already gone out to betray him to death. So, these were like his final instructions he was giving to them while he was still alive and before he was taken and hung on a cross to die for our sins (See: John 13-16).
So, this speaks today to us who are also Jesus’ true disciples. We are the Lord’s servants, and he is our master (owner). And, he did not promise us that if we follow him that we will have an easy life or that everyone will love us and will think we are wonderful. He promised us suffering for the sake of his name, and he promised us that we would be hated and persecuted for the sake of righteousness.
Not only will we be hated, rejected and persecuted, even by those of our own households, of our own families, of our own communities, and of our church family, but they will reject the very words of God that we share with them, too, which are taught in the scriptures. Some will reject all scripture, while others will “cherry pick” the scriptures they like, and will reject those scriptures which confront them with their sinful lifestyles.
So, we need to be prepared for this so that when it happens that it does not undo us. We can’t take it personally, for when they reject the words of God, they are rejecting Jesus Christ (God). So, if we are following our Lord, and if we are sharing his full gospel message, then we will also be rejected.
“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.’” John 15:22-25 ESV
The scriptures teach that all people are without excuse because God has revealed himself to all humankind through his created works. So, we can’t say that we didn’t know. It isn’t that we don’t know, but it is that we refuse to do what we do know, so we suppress the truth, and we go our own way instead, when we choose to follow after the flesh and not after God. (See Romans 1:18-32).
The scriptures also teach that all have sinned and have fallen short of attaining God’s approval and his righteousness (Rom. 3:23). There is no one righteous, no not one – not in our own merit and of our own flesh.
So, the only way that any of us can be made righteous is by God-given faith in Jesus Christ who gave his life up for us on a cross so that we could be delivered from our lives of slavery to sin, and so that we could now live new lives in him to him and to his righteousness (Eph. 2:8-10; Rom. 6:1-23).
So, outside of faith in Jesus Christ, we are all guilty of sin. So, I get the sense here that the sins Jesus is speaking of are very specific sins. And, there seems to be a greater sense of guilt here, too, because he revealed himself to them and yet they refused to believe in him.
Although ignorance of the law is no excuse, according to our human laws, when we refuse to obey what we know to obey, and when we choose to do what we know we ought not to do, there seems to be a stronger sense of guilt attached because with greater knowledge comes greater responsibility.
And, then there is another significant truth here that we must also understand. Not one of us who rejects Jesus Christ as our Lord and Christ (the Messiah) believes in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And, this is because the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
So, if we reject Jesus Christ, we also reject God, the God of the Jews of the Old Testament. So, any Jew who rejects Christ as the Messiah also rejects the God of their forefathers. So, they are no different from their Arab neighbors who don’t believe in God. And, those who hate Jesus also hate God and thus they will also hate us who follow Jesus (See: Romans 9:6b-8; Gal. 3:10, 16, 26-29; Gal. 4:22-31; Eph. 2:14-18; 1 Jn. 2:22).
So, to believe in the God of the Jews of the Old Testament is to believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Messiah. They are inseparable! We can’t have one without the other.
And, lastly, just remember that if they persecuted Jesus Christ, they will persecute us. So, we should not be surprised when even those who profess faith in the one true God and/or who profess faith in Jesus Christ hate us and persecute us who are following Jesus Christ with our lives. And, we must also remember to pray for them, to love them, and to do to them what will be for their ultimate benefit, and not what will cause them harm.
All Through the Night
An Original Work / December 7, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures
Blessed are you when you’re persecuted
Because of your faith in Jesus Christ.
Blessed are you when people insult you,
And falsely say what leads folks to doubt.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is
Great in the heavens. You’re not alone.
When you are persecuted in one place,
Flee to another. God will be there.
You will be hated by all the nations
Because you testify of God’s grace.
Many will seize you and persecute you,
And put to death the foll’wers of Christ.
Yet, do not fear what humans may do to you,
For I’m with you all through the night.
I tell you, love your enemies with my love,
And forgive as I forgave you.
Pray for those who do evil against you.
Rest in my love and grace from above.