Do not be surprised if the world doesn’t respond with love and affection for you as a Jesus follower. Expect people’s response to be based conditionally upon whether you are behaving the way they want you to. And keep loving them no matter their response…
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 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. 20 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. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
Perhaps the most important line in the scripture quoted above is the last quote: “They hated me without cause.” Which means that this isn’t a post about how Christians are hard done by when they are attacked for being judgmental and acting like the attack dogs of faith. In other words, today some Christians are hated for cause.
I know hate is a strong word. The point is that some of us deserve the response we get from the world. Jesus did not. That’s the essence. Jesus came to save the world and not judge the world (John 3) and his own people crucified him because of his identity. The Son of God was crucified because they didn’t accept that he was the Son of God.
He healed and taught and performed miracles and they responded as enemies. And so the context of John 15 is that backdrop of Jesus’ innocence and the religious leaders’ hatred.
They hated him first. His world hated him and so he predicts they will hate us. The world loves what belongs to it, yet we are no longer part of the world – we are citizens of heaven. This doesn’t go over well. It makes us different. For that, we will be hated.
What is really happening, at the root of it all, Jesus says, is that people are rejecting the Father in heaven (vs. 21). The Father sent Jesus. The Father is the one who has made us his children (John 1:12). When people reject Jesus and his followers they are rejecting the Father in heaven.
Jesus has left them with no excuse, because he came and proved his identity – still they hate him and his Father (vs. 24). So what shall we do about this? Nothing. It’s reality. In fact, it’s a fulfillment of prophecy (vs. 25) which quotes Psalm 109:3.
Above everything, the response of the world toward Christians should not surprise us or cause us to stumble into a fight with the world. We, like Jesus, are here to save and not to judge. Not that we can die for anyone’s sins; rather, that we are here to bring people to God – not to push them away or attack them.
Turn the other cheek and keep loving on the world.