“Because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” John 15:19
As I was reading this morning in one of my devo reads (John MacArthur’s Daily Readings for the Life of Christ, vol.3), this was my text. It lined up with a couple of other things I read today and resonated with my heart. So…here is a thought on the statement…”Does the world hate me and do I care?” As much as I would like to reply YES…I am not certain that is true…or even if it makes sense to drive this to a categorical statement.
The issue is not that we should desire for the world to hate us. To the contrary…our lives should look like Christ. Most of the “world” liked Him…or ignored Him…or were oblivious to Him. Religious lost people hated Him, because He challenged their very existence to the core. He questioned their motives and shined a Holy Spirit powered spotlight into the recesses of their hearts. But most of the world did not.
The NT universally tells us to dwell in peace, to pray for civil governments, to lift up holy hands without wrath or dissension. The testimony of the NT is that the disciples “turned the world upside down” with their teaching…not their revolutionary agendas. We further see that the testimony of the disciples and their manner of life was well received by the community.
So what is Jesus speaking of here? Simply…I see Jesus pointing out that our very existence, if we were truly walking in faith and by faith, will make people who are living in opposition to God uncomfortable. People living in sin like to hang out together. Introduce a “Christian weirdo” (or if you prefer…a peculiar person” -1 Pet 2:9) into the mix and it throws off the rhythm. People are uncomfortable. Unchecked sinfulness is now hidden or masked or defended. IOW…people hate you.
So the question in two parts: Does the world hate you? Not if we are too similar to the world. If we do not offer enough contrast to the self-serving hedonism that is pervasive in our culture…probably not. If we live for the same materialistic pursuits as the world…it is doubtful. If we value life and relationships and morality in the same way as the world…not a chance. Now if we live “separate/sanctified” then maybe so…but do we?
The second part…”do we care if the world hates us?” Well…we shouldn’t and we should. We should not care in the sense that we seek the approval of the world. It would place us at enmity with God to desire the world’s approval more than God’s. In another sense…we should care. We want to present enough of a contrast that the world asks “Why?”. We want them to know what makes us peculiar but that question never arises if we are not living as “peculiar people.”
We want to live without blame before the world so that we can maintain bridges to the gospel…but we recognize that we will be blamed anyway for making others uncomfortable…not by our obnoxious presence, but due to our sanctified convictions.
One last reflection…these are our convictions…not the world’s. By nature, they have other convictions and will maintain them until they come into relationship with Christ. That’s why Jesus said that the world will hate us. So…it is not our mission to impose our ideology on people who have no relationship with Christ; rather, it is our mission to engage in the relationship and conversation in order that our friends (yep…same lost people) can learn the value of returning to the created design and be redeemed to relationship with the One who invades and occupies their hearts. Then, our godly convictions become theirs as well.