John 15:18-21 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.”
Love and Hate
This is a very profound statement, and one that we would do well to take to heart. For, the message is loud and clear.
If we are of the world, which includes the worldly and fleshly market-driven institutional (state) church, then they will love us as their own. They will accept us, embrace us, include us, and they will make us to feel welcome and as part of them.
They will invite us to and include us in their gatherings, and they will invite us to their homes (at least pre-Covid). They will chat with us, respond to our chats, hang out with us, meet us for dinner, feel comfortable and at home with us, and will “let their hair down” to show us they feel at home with us.
But if we are not of the world, because Jesus called us out of the world, then the world (including the worldly church) will not love us as their own, but they will reject, ostracize, push away, ignore, exclude, despise and/or resent us because we are not like them.
For, if we are truly living lives separate from the world and unto God, in holiness and in purity of devotion to the Lord, and we are not caught up in the ways of the world, we are going to “stand out like a sore thumb.” It will be obvious to everyone that we are different.
For, Jesus said that if any of us would come after him we must deny self and take up our cross daily (daily die to sin) and follow (obey) him. He said if we hold on to our old lives (of living for sin and self) we will lose them for eternity. But if we lose our lives (die with Christ to sin) for the sake of His name, then we will live with him eternally (Lu 9:23-26; cf. Rom 8:1-17).
One Foot In
I believe there are some very sincere believers in Jesus, who hold to the truth of the gospel, who witness for the Lord, and who are basically moral people, but who still have one foot in the world. They are still following many of the ways and customs of the world.
They are still listening to worldly voices, and so they have a difficult time hearing the voice of the Lord. They still hold to some of the customs and traditions of the world passed down to them from generation to generation, and they have difficulty letting those go. So, it hinders their walks of faith.
But Jesus called us out of the world, but to still be in the world, but to not be part of the world and its ways. So, instead of adopting the ways of the world, we are to “stand out like sore thumbs.” We are to be uniquely different from (unlike the) world. They should not embrace us.
Even many Christians will reject us, hate us, ignore us, exclude us, and not want to be with us because our lives are surrendered to Jesus Christ for his service, and we are not still living with one foot in the door of the world. So, they won’t be comfortable being around us because our lifestyles are an offense to them, truth be told. They feel uncomfortable around us.
Many of us grew up attending institutional church gatherings while also watching television, going to movies, listening to secular music, watching the news, celebrating all holidays, going to parties or social gatherings, and going to public schools. So, we grew up in a mixture of sacred and secular.
We grew up taking in a mixture of messages into our minds both from the secular world and from the world of faith in Christ, and some of this we received into our minds through the gatherings of the church, too. For, much of the church had become so secularized, but not as much as it is today.
In a sense, we were thus programmed to do certain things and to believe certain things because that is what was ingrained in us from childhood via the church and the world. TV was/is especially mind-controlling and very hypnotic, so we accepted many things via TV we should not have.
So, we accepted a “Christian” life as was modeled to us and as what seemed normal to us, and we accepted church life in the same way, and so we have many Christians today who aren’t much different than the people of the world, and they don’t even realize that is where they are or that it is bad.
So, what the Lord wants us to do is to go back to the Scriptures and to study them, and to learn from him what he requires of us in the way of thought and deed, and what it should look like for us to live lives which are truly separate from the world because we are being conformed to the likeness of Christ.
But we have to pull ourselves away from these worldly influences. We need to get radical in our walks of faith, in other words, and we need to focus our minds on the Lord and on following him wherever he leads us.
For, he didn’t put us on this earth for ourselves, but he put us here for him, to do his works which he prepared in advance that we should walk in them.
When We Do
But when we do get radical about our walks of faith, and we truly do live lives which are separate (unlike, different) from the world, because we are becoming more and more like Jesus, we are going to notice that those who once accepted us will now reject us.
They will reject us because we are following Jesus in wholehearted devotion, and we will no longer be worldly in our thinking or in our actions, and that will be an offense to them, and they will feel uncomfortable being around us. But we will need to accept this as part of what it means to follow Jesus.
But we won’t just face rejection or people ignoring us or not wanting to be with us, but some people will fiercely oppose us and the gospel message, and they may fight against us, even accusing us falsely of what we did not do or say, and that is because they want to silence us.
For Satan is out to take us down. He is out to destroy us and the gospel. And he is out to deceive minds into following him, instead. And so, if we are exposing his deceptions, and if we are proclaiming the truth, instead, he will come after us like he did to Jesus.
But this is all in God’s plan for our lives, just like it was in God’s plan that Jesus should suffer and die on a cross so that we could be free from our slavery to sin and so that we can now walk in holiness and in purity of devotion to him.
Jesus said: “But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’” And they will hate us without cause, too.
Awaken the Dawn
An Original Work / January 15, 2013
Based off Psalm 57 (NIV 1984)
O my God, have mercy on me!
In the Lord, my soul takes refuge.
In the shadow of Your wings, Lord,
I find shelter till the storms pass.
I cry out to my God Most High.
He fulfills His purpose for me.
He sent His Son to die for me,
So I could be saved.
I am in the midst of lions;
Men whose teeth are spears and arrows;
Whose tongues are sharp; words accusing.
They spread a net, my feet to catch.
They dug a pit, in hopes I’d fall.
O God, be exalted o’er all.
Let Your glory shine to all men,
So they may be saved.
Steadfast is my heart, O my God;
I will sing of all Your wonders.
Awake, my soul! Sing praise to God!
Early I will rise and praise Him!
I’ll praise God among the nations;
I will sing among the peoples.
God’s love reaches to the heavens,
So we may be saved.