“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me.“ (John 15:18-21, NLT)
We’ve spent the entire summer talking together about discipleship – how disciples believe and act. But this week I ran across this passage in John 15. It was Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. Like when you’re heading out of the house and there are several important things you need to tell your kids…in the same way, Jesus has some important last instructions for his disciples.
To be honest, I’m not a fan of this prophecy. Jesus doesn’t say the world will dislike the disciples…he uses the very strong words “hate” and “persecute.” In fact, Jesus’ point is that this is part of what it means to be a disciple. If the world celebrates us, we probably need to re-examine our loyalties.
This passage has been around for 2,000 years. I’ve read it dozens and dozens of times. But for the first time this week, the passage really meant something to me. It was no longer hypothetical. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a column in the Denton paper shining light on some of the darkness in our city. The response has been crazy! We’ve had people come to our house and the church…they’ve written truly nasty things about my character…they’ve even spoken curses over my (future) grandchildren.
But here’s the thing: Jesus wasn’t just giving a warning. He ends the section with a promise: “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33, NLT)
Friends, as disciples, we’re called to reach out to the world in love! That will sometimes be rejected – or misinterpreted. Trials and sorrows may follow. But don’t give up or give in…because they did the exact same thing to Jesus – and he has overcome the world for us!
Can’t wait to see you Sunday for Back to Church BBQ!