Have you ever wondered why people treat Christians and what they believe with contempt? Why does this happen, even though we have not done anything to them? Before his trial and crucifixion Jesus explained this to those who were with him.
“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. Remember what I told you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too.” (John 15:18-20 NET)
What was Jesus saying to the eleven apostles? He was reminding them of the cost of following him. Did the Jews of his day think that he was wonderful? Absolutely not! As Jesus spoke these words there was a plot to have him killed – and it was already moving towards what would be his crucifixion. If they did this to Jesus, can his followers, even today, expect anything different?
It seems to be that sometimes we as Christians expect something different. Why is there so much prejudice and hatred against those who follow Jesus? The short answer is: they didn’t like Jesus either. But Jesus went on to explain why they felt like this towards him and those who would follow him.
“But they will do all these things to you on account of my name because they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. But they no longer have any excuse for their sin. The one who hates me hates my Father too. If I had not performed among them the miraculous deeds that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen the deeds and have hated both me and my Father. Now this happened to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without reason.’” (John 15:21-25)
People have always hated Jesus and his followers because they do not know God. If they had known God, and if they knew God today, they would treat Christians differently. Perhaps this has something to say about antagonism between those who profess to follow Jesus as well. Notice that Jesus went on to say that those who hated him also hated his Father. You can’t have one without the other.
People hated Jesus and his followers because he pointed out their sin. In many ways we have a controversial message today, as well. When we tell people that they need Jesus we are telling them that they are sinners and need to turn away from their sin. We are pointing out their sin and some people don’t like to hear that. We are telling them that they need to change – again not a popular message because people really don’t like change.
By Jesus coming into the world and living as he did he showed that he was God’s Messiah. He showed there was a better way to live. He died to establish this better way, a way to receive forgiveness.
We should not think that politics is the answer to what is wrong with the world. We should not think that an election will really change anything. You see, the real problem is sin and there is only one remedy. The remedy is Jesus.
May we never shrink from declaring this wonderful message despite what may happen to us.
Readings for next week: John 12-17