Hated by the World

John 15:18-6:4

While the first 17 verses of chapter 15 discuss relationships within the Christian community, verses 18 and following discuss the relationship between the Christian community and the outside world.  In the first instance, the relationship is characterized by love, but in the second it is characterized by hate.  This is a new reality that the disciples must deal with, one that exists to this day. To begin to understand this phenomenon, we must remind ourselves that the world Jesus speaks of is continuing to live in rebellion against God.  Jesus brought this contrast between God and Rebellion into the harsh light of day and the people didn’t like it.  His disciples will do the same thing with the same result.  We too will make this contrast easy to see if we live according to His teachings.  We will also cause some to believe and be saved, but the majority will not appreciate our work.  For this reason, Christians in “tolerant” America are ridiculed in the press, movies and television, and are often singled out in the public square for derision.

Christians are not “of this world” but instead “our citizenship is in heaven.” (Phil. 3:18-20) The world we live in today is “post-modern” meaning that the overriding standard of morality is what is right for me.  Post-modernism doesn’t allow anyone to say that something is “right” or “wrong” absolutely and calls on individuals to seek that which is right for them and demands “tolerance” from everyone else.  Obviously, post-modernism is not the philosophical basis of the Bible, and as we all know many people have a hard time listening to anyone tell them differently.  This entire philosophy demonstrates that most people do not wish to be reconciled to God, or as Jesus put it, to “know the One who sent me.”

As a result of Jesus’ ministry, the world was left “without excuse.”  He has spoken the truth of sin, death, right and wrong, and He topped it all off by confirming His teachings with miraculous signs so that there would be no way for anyone to claim that His teachings were simply another random philosophy: They were the very words of God.  As a result, rebellious humanity in large part hated both Jesus and His Father, as the prophets had foretold.

Jesus reminds the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit. Note that this is not a teaching about the Holy Spirit as much as it is teaching about what their responsibility would be.  The presence of the Holy Spirit is beneficial in a great many ways, but it doesn’t mean that we have no work to do; our part is to teach people about the Gospel and make disciples.

Jesus has told His disciples unpleasant facts about their future, and now in 16:1-4 He tells them why He has done so.  The unpleasant future would soon begin with the arrest and senseless murder of Jesus Himself by Jewish leaders who believed that they were keeping God’s Law by doing so.  The book of Acts documents a reign of terror against the early church in which many were arrested and tortured or murdered by people who thought they were doing God’s work in silencing God’s truth.  This is not only an irony but sheer madness.  Jesus has told them of these things so that they would not drift away from their faith when the trials came; so that they would hold steadfast in the knowledge that God’s plan was playing out.  In truth, the more the church has been persecuted, the more it has grown because of the courageous stand taken by the followers of Christ.  Sadly, there have also been times when the church itself has persecuted the truth by torturing and murdering “heretics” who were teaching the truth within the church.

About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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19 Responses to Hated by the World

  1. Interesting timing, as an article came out today about leaked emails attacking / putting down Christians. It is still a hard time during which to stick to your values.

  2. persedeplume says:

    Don~ I find this whole narrative quite puzzling. The religious community in the US has always been a majority demographically. I’m not aware of any laws abridging the rights of Christians. In fact, the religious have more dogma enshrined in legislation than any time since the Founding Fathers. The media has been a megaphone for believers as long as I can remember. I’m wondering if I’m missing something.
    I would suggest that if you’re dissatisfied with societal moral fibre that you have a “believer” problem, not an “non believer” issue. You’re easily 70% of the voting population.

    • Don Merritt says:

      I would respectfully suggest that you might have missed the point of the post you’re commenting on, for it deals primarily with conditions 2,000 years ago. Perhaps it wasn’t well communicated, so that’s on me. As for my secondary observation about the present day, I certainly agree with you that we have no legal restriction of religion in the US. We may well agree to disagree on the other points, which is fine by me Yet this morning’s new, although no much heralded, makes one wonder about the future in this country when you consider the magnitude of contempt we are held in by those who will most likely be running things in a few months.

      • persedeplume says:

        I hear so frequently from believers that they’re persecuted, that I get tunnel vision sometimes. 🙂 I would agree your post is an accurate representation of the “new church” in Roman times. We would also agree on the state of politics. I have no desire to see Hillary in the WH ever again.
        Thanks for being open to comment.

        • Don Merritt says:

          A Christian who claims to be persecuted in the USA doesn’t know what persecution is, for there is quite a big difference between persecution and disagreement or political opposition.

          I always appreciate thoughtful comments whether I agree or not, so thank you for making yours.

  3. In response to Persedeplume’s comments, I wonder if we are approaching a tipping point in which America’s Congressmen will go “Hey…we’ve pushed the evangelicals far enough back…why are we giving this spiritual legislation such a wide berth! Get rid of it!” And they’ll try, and the church will find itself shocked by how little resistance is offered.

    Our status as Americans is not a permanent cushion. Don’s message is necessary. We Christians should constantly live vigilantly, partially so we are pragmatically prepared, but partly so we are always counting our blessings.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Brandon I think you are quite right; none of us knows what the future holds, and thus we should exercise our civic duty to participate in the process just as all Americans should. Yet we should remember that our hope and our futures are securely in God’s hands. This is where we ultimately place faith, that God will see us through whatever may come, rather than placing our hope and faith in the institutions of men.

  4. paulfg says:

    What a wonderful thinker! Thank you. And – for me – addresses one of the difficulties with this “world stuff”. The often quoted “of this world but not in it” quote. Which immediately puts an (unnecessary?) us and them – and is a “Christian presupposition” which influences so much else.

    “As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.”

    Tiny difference – but one which I read with sirens blaring and bells ringing (like how He does when He wants your attention). And which resonates with “in and OF this world”. No us and them. We are all one.

    One small difference? “I have chosen you” from this world. And we are all chosen – we are all invited. It’s just some refuse to hear the invitation, some read it and put it in the bin, and others are vaguely aware of it and find a time later in life when that invitation is “just the right moment” for them.

    I have struggled for a long time with this arbitrary Christian thing of “I am in but I am not of”.

    It carries an implicit “better than thou” complex. It attaches “religion and all that” to “relationship with God” and makes them one and the same. Which they are not (in my view).

    Because that simply reinforces a “better than thou” complex. For me – this one increasingly become that I am in and of this world – that I do belong here for as long as I am here. The alternative?

    If I am here – but shouldn’t be – if I am chosen and “you” are not – if I shouldn’t even be here … How much does that “I don’t fit” drag us away from the very Jesus we worship?

    But the “other way”?

    I am in this world, I am in this world, I belong here while I am here – we all are – there is no us and them. There are merely those who see this “invitation” in different ways – and in different weeks of the lives – and maybe until that one moment. And that – for me – shifts a lot of “religious baggage” that weighs “us”(!!) down.

    (and explains why I have always learned as much about God from those who don’t believe in God as those who do)

    Don, I have never been able to verbalise this to myself until just now. Thank you!

    The pondering continues!! 🙂

    • paulfg says:

      Doh! Another post spun of the back of this one! The time difference and my working day – I am just about to press publish. Big hugs ((hugs))

    • Don Merritt says:

      Thank you Paul. For whatever it may be worth, I think of this whole “world” business not as “us good” and “they bad”, since as you say, that really isn’t true. In my mind it’s just like speaking to someone who comes from a different culture. Their culture is different from mine, with different expectations, customs and language; it may involve a completely different understanding of certain things… Whatever those differences may be, “those people” aren’t “bad”, just a little different, which to me makes them interesting if anything. As long as we are aware, we can still have a relationship, mutual respect and even trust can still develop, and when it does there may be an opportunity to extend an invitation… to dinner, to a party, or… who knows what?

      • paulfg says:

        If my comment comes across as a general swipe at all who call themselves Christians – my apologies. And what a delightful expansion on the accepting the invitation. It is a lovely and loving explanation I do not often hear said clearly by many.

  5. Pingback: In but not of … | Just me being curious

  6. Pingback: Hated by the World | The Life Project | franciscansonthemountains

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