If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. (John 15:18-23)
Love God And The World Will Hate You
The call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ does not come free. There is a natural connection between following a man who will suffer death on a cross and the price paid of those who follow such a man. Throughout His ministry, Jesus told His disciples they would have to bear a cross to follow Him. In the New Testament days, cross bearing was a vivid parable to use because it was not uncommon to see a man hanging from a cross writhing in intense agony. Streets would sometimes be lined with victims dead and dying. Crucifixion was the image of suffering having paid a full price of condemnation. Jesus did not mince words about what it would be like to follow Him. If the Son of God would suffer death on a cross then what would anyone expect of those who live by His name? Jesus never committed a sin and they killed Him. Imperfect men would suffer the same fate at the hands of a world filled with hatred.
In the final hours before His death, Jesus told the eleven apostles of the life they could expect as His close disciples. The world would turn against these men because they were disciples of Jesus. It is clear the eleven were unaware of what was about to transpire but Jesus warned them of the difficulties they would be facing. Every Christian must understand the price paid to follow Jesus. The world is going to hate the child of God because righteousness condemns the unrighteous acts of the world. Bearing the name of Christ comes with a cross on its back. People of the world live for themselves and cannot bear those who follow a righteous path. From the beginning of time, unrighteous men have persecuted righteous people. It will be no different in our modern world.
Jesus tells His disciples that if they were like the world there would be no conflict. It is easy to avoid persecution by living like the world. That way, no one will object to the manner of life of a child of God because they are no different from everyone else in the world. The Christian cannot live like the world because the word of God will never allow the acceptance of the world’s standards. The absolute truth of living a Christian life is conflict with the world. Paul will later tell Timothy that if a person desires to live a life for Jesus Christ, they will suffer persecution. This is not an option. Jesus tells His disciples this is a reality. If the world hates Jesus, they will hate His followers. A harsh reality that many modern day children of God refuse to accept is that they do not suffer affliction from the world because their manner of life is not in conflict with the world. They dress like the world, talk as the world and act like the world and live like the world. The world does not hate the Christian because the Christian looks just like them.
The reason Jesus was killed was that man hated God. When a man hates Jesus Christ, they hate God. All the works Jesus did in the presence of man proved He was God’s Son. Killing Him confirmed their hatred for God. This is true of the disciples of Jesus. When the world persecutes the Christian, they hate Jesus Christ. The reality is that when the Christian suffers wrong from the world it is because they hate God. It is important for the child of God to learn that when they live like the world and the world does not hate them, their example reflects the character of Satan, not God. It is impossible for a Christian to live like the world and reflect the example of Jesus Christ. Dressing immodest like the world will not bring persecution from the world. Drinking like the world will not compromise your worldly character. Vulgar language comes from a worldly mouth. Anger and hatred spring from hearts filled with the vices of the world. Failing to live righteous lives harmonize with the life of compromise. If the world does not hate our manner of life, it is because our manner of life is no different than the world.
A disciple of Christ bears a cross. It is impossible to live a godly life and not bear a cross. They killed Jesus because they hated God and anyone who follows Jesus will be hated. Jesus affirms this to be an absolute. If you love God – the world will hate you. The choice is yours.
We are at another crossroads. No question is of greater moment than this: shall we let the hostility of this world scare us into becoming diplomats on good terms with the world, the flesh and the devil, instead of flaming witnesses in a head-on collision with a godless age? (Vance Havner; 1901-1986)