“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.” (John 15:18–19 NET)
Christians frequently wonder why we face so much opposition from the non-believing world that surrounds us. After all, who could really be against a faith as generous, loving, kind, gracious, and positive as ours? At the center of our faith is the good news that we have all come to discover. However, most of the modern world has yet to find the saving power of the cross. So even when we attempt to do good things, we face opposition. Recently a church member told me they had proposed doing a food drive at their work place for Thanksgiving. The idea was declined by upper management because it seemed “too Christian.” Really??? We are not going to help feed people because it was a Christian who proposed the idea? Most of the things we face here in America seem trivial compared to the opposition in other parts of the world. Despite the level of persecution or opposition we face, we can take heart when we read these words of Christ. He knows what it is like to be opposed and hated. The reason we are hated by the world is because we no longer belong to the world. This is not bad news, it is good news! It is never fun or pleasant to face ridicule, strife, or opposition, but when we do we are perhaps closer to Christ and further from this world than at any other time. This is not to say that we should seek it out, but instead to say we should never fear opposition. When it arrives we should embrace it and have faith in God to lead us through it.
Take some time to reflect on instances when you have been hated by the world. Now that you look back on those times, do they seem as bad as they did when you walked through them? Did you not get stronger in your faith during these times? If God brought you through, then surely He will see you through the next dose of opposition as well. The world does not hate you because you are rich, poor, white, black, tall, short, drop-dead gorgeous, or ugly. The world hates you because you are His. Knowing that makes it all worth it to me. What about you?
I loved the last verse of our reading today…“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have trouble and suffering, but take courage–I have conquered the world.” (John 16:32–33 NET)