Recovering Biblical Sanity - John:15:18-16:4a

"If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you."
John 15:18

The world will hate us. That's not a possibility, it is a certainty. We don't need to try and make the world hate us. Jesus isn't giving us permission to posture adversarially toward the world. He isn't giving us an excuse to be combative and offensive. He is simply stating the fact that his kingdom and his gospel are offensive to the world, and if we follow him we will incite the world against us.
Jesus is offensive. He opposes all that is native to us. Jesus didn't come to coddle us and he hasn't empowered us to go coddly the world. Jesus isn't trying to make us feel better about our lives by endorsing everything about us. Jesus is trying to help us see the emptiness and deadness of our lives so that we'll renounce everything about us and trust in him for newness of life. Jesus isn't validating our lives, he is calling us out of our lives and into his life. This is why people hated Jesus. And if we're faithful to him, it's why they will hate us too.

We don't need to be rattled or surprised when the world opposes us. In fact, we should be unsettled if they don't. We need to always be willing to humbly evaluate our hearts and lives if people are angry with us or offended by us. Being offensive doesn't mean we're faithful to Jesus. But neither is an indictment on our faithfulness to Jesus. Too many Christians wear their antagonism to the world as a badge of godliness, and too many Christians think being liked by everyone is substantiates their godliness. Jesus is telling us that how the world responds to us or treats us cannot be the indicator from which we draw our sense of success or failure.
When he locates his people who are not of this world, into the this world, we will be seen and treated as aliens to this world. We need to anticipate and expect this. We need to recognize the this-worldliness of our climate on all sides of so many social and political fights, and not let ourselves be drawn into the polarization on the terms set by the world. The world hating Christians and Christianity is not a reliable reason to assume Christians and Christianity are failing the world.

There is no room for religious fervor and moral superiority of the sort that leads to arrogance, self-righteousness or hostility. We need to consider whether the world hates us because of gospel integrity or gospel duplicity. Let's root out every earthly reason the world to hate us. But let's also be okay with any gospel reason for our rejection. Animosity from the world toward Christians is baked into the cake of Christianity. We have to account for social ostracization when we decide to follow Jesus. Let's just assume that's coming for us and not be undone by it.

In these verses, Jesus specifically tells us the world will hate us. He wants us to know ahead of time so that when we receive the ire of the world around us, we won't look for the eject button or second guess ourselves. He doesn't want us to be overrun and paralyzed by self-doubt. Faithfulness to Jesus will incur the resentment of the world and backlash from the world. Let's ensure it's for the reasons Jesus was hated, and not our own reasons.

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