We’re going through the New Testament and coming to a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. (Well I hope you are! I can only truly speak for myself.) Right now, we’re in the gospel of John and we’re in the fifteenth chapter. This chapter is the Upper Room discourse although it could be that Jesus is on the move on the way to the garden now. We’re going to be looking at John 15:18-21 tonight.
18“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.
Jesus does not paint a pretty picture for us with the message of “If the world hates you.” We seem to have this strange idea in the church today that the world is supposed to love us. Let’s not try to do anything to offend the world. Now I’m for not needlessly offending the world, but if we’re preaching the gospel, it’s going to offend people.
Christ’s message is that we can expect to be hated and indeed, the early Christians were. Christ himself was hated. When people hate us for being Christians, we shouldn’t act like this is anything new. We should accept this. Now that doesn’t mean we seek to be hated and it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re doing wrong if we have non-Christian friends, but it does mean that our message should be seen as offensive and if that happens, we shouldn’t be surprised.
Why does the world not? Because we are not of the world. We are different. We have chosen to cut ourselves off in a sense from what the world values. This doesn’t mean we live in isolation from the world. We are to be in the world but not of it. (An excellent guide to how to do this is Hugh Hewitt’s aptly named book, “In But Not Of.”)
The way the world receives the apostles will be a reflection of the way that they received Christ. Those who received Christ will receive the apostles. Those who rejected him will reject the apostles. It’s an all-or-nothing deal. After all, the apostles taught the same message that Jesus did.
If they reject the apostles, it is not because of them but because they have rejected God first. Now it could be sometimes that when we present the gospel, we do such a terrible job of it that it is us. However, when that happens, chances are either we’ll know it or someone else will point it out to us.
In our evangelism, we need to keep this in mind. Also remember that rejection of Jesus is rejection of God. You can’t have one without having the other.
We shall continue this chapter tomorrow.