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Why Does The World Hate Christians? is the topic that will be discussed today on RIOT Podcast, a Christian Discipleship Podcast
We will discover a unifying thread in today's reading from John 15:18–16:4 that unites all of our reading. That is, the church is facing hostility from the world, while the Holy Spirit's ministry is operating with and through the Church. Jesus had been teaching His disciples primarily about love up until this point, but now He will be speaking about hatred. In this section of scripture that we are reading today, He used the term “hatred” seven times.
Jesus is the very definition of love. Everything He has ever done is because of His love for others, so how could anyone hate him? His desires the best for us, however, He tells us that we too will be hated like Him. If we identify ourselves as Christians today, then that is the way things will be. Jesus warns His followers that the world will persecute them in the same way that He is being persecuted, and that the world also will hate them. It is clear from John's gospel that the religious establishment not only rejected Jesus, but also actively sought to have him killed. The lesson Jesus is teaching His disciples here is that they must endure this hostile environment and persistent hostility until Jesus comes again or until they die.
Let’s dive in and unpack these powerful verses. Let’s Read John 15:18- 16:4
We should start by defining what Jesus means by "the world," because the term appears at least three times in the Bible. It can refer to the created world (John 1:10 the world was made by Him), the world of humanity (John 3:16 for God so loved the world), or society apart from God and opposed to God, which we refer to as the world system.
From a Christian perspective, the world includes all of the people, plans, organizations, activities, philosophies, values, and so on that belong to society without God. Some of these things may be very cultural, while others may be very corrupt, but they all have their origins in the heart and mind of sinful man and promote what sinful man wishes to enjoy and achieve. As Christians, we must be careful not to fall in love with or conform to the world.
Now that we described the term “world”, let’s ask the question, Why does the world system, including the religious world, hate Christians, the ones who believe in Jesus and seek to follow Him? Jesus himself gave us several reasons and the first one is because “we Identify with Him”.
In verses 18 and 20, Jesus says that if they hated Him, they will also hate those who identify with Him. Jesus quoted the statement He made earlier in John 13:16 and in John 15:20, and the logic is clear. We are the servants to the Master. Because He is greater than we are, He deserves to be praised and glorified, but the world will not praise or glorify Him. The world despises Him, so the world must despise us. If Jesus, despite His greatness and perfection, does not escape persecution, what hope do we have with our own flaws?
Some other passages in the Bible show a special bond between Christ and His followers, that when He is attacked, so are we. In Matt 26:31, we are the sheep and he is the shepherd, so when the shepherd is attacked, the sheep suffer. When they attack Him, they also target us because He is the Master and we are His followers. But it is comforting to know that Jesus shares in the pain of God's people when they are persecuted since He is the Head of the body and we are the members.
Remember in Acts 9:4 when Jesus said Saul and Saul, why are you persecuting me? Paul was persecuting the Church and Jesus took it personally. So, anything that the enemy can do to us has already been done to Jesus. He is with us as we suffer, absolutely amazing.
The next reason Jesus gives us why the world system hates us, is found in vs 19, “because we do not belong to the world.”
When we trusted Jesus we moved into a new spiritual position. We are now “in Christ” and “out of the world” To be sure, we are in the world physically, but not of the world spiritually
We are now partakers of the heavenly calling (Heb 3:1) we are no longer interested in the treasures or pleasures of sin in this world. This does not mean we are isolated from reality or insulated from the world’s needs, so heavenly minded that we are no earthly good. Rather it means that we look at the things of earth from heaven's point of view.
The world system operates on the basis of conformity. As long as a person follows the fads and fashions and accepts the values of the world, he or she will get along. But the Christian refuses to be conformed to this world. In 2 Cor 5:17 says that “the believer is a new creation; old things are passed and behold all things are made new.” That is saying that we no longer want to live in the old life. We are the light of the world, and the salt of the earth. But a dark world does not want light and the world hates that we are different and out of step with them.
The next reason Jesus gives us why the world system hates us, is found in vs 21 because, the world is spiritually ignorant and blind. If you have asked the religious leaders in Jerusalem if they knew the God they were seeking to defend, they would have said, of course we know Him. But Jesus said that they did not know the Father, therefore, they could not know the Son.
This was not a new theme for Jesus to discuss, He has mentioned this many times before to the religious leaders. Remember, in John 8:19, He said, “You neither know me nor my father. If you had known me, you should have known my father also. You have not known me, but I know Him.” The religious world claims to know God, but it does not want to bow the knee to Jesus as the son of God and the only Savior of the world. In 2 Cor 4:3 says that Satan has blinded their minds, in Eph 4:17 it says that Satan has blinded their hearts. The world chooses religion over relationships.
Another reason the world system Hates us, is found in vs 22-24, because the world will not be honest about its own sin. Once again, Jesus emphasized His words and His works. We have seen this emphasis throughout the gospel of John. The people had no excuse for their sin. They had seen His works and heard His words, but they would not admit the truth. Jesus presented to them all of the evidence they would ever need, but they were not honest enough to receive it and act on it.
This statement here parallels what Jesus told the Pharisees after He healed the blind man. They had to admit that Jesus had healed the man born blind, but they would not follow the evidence to its logical conclusion and put their trust in Him. Jesus told them that they were the ones who were blind. Since they admitted that they had seen a miracle, this made their sin even worse. They were no longer sinning in ignorance, they now had the truth and completely rejected it. 2 Peter 3:5 says “For this they willingly are ignorant.” People in the world refuse to face their sin honestly.
How does the Holy Spirit encourage believers when they are experiencing the hatred and opposition of the world?
In Vs 26, Jesus tells us it is primarily through the word of God. It says the HS will testify about Him, because He is the word. It also says the Spirit witnesses us and through us during times of persecution. He reminds us that what we are experiencing is the fellowship of Christ's sufferings. (Phil 3:10) and that it is a privilege to bear reproach for His name.
Let’s read 1 Peter 4:12-19 and unpack this more
Times of persecution have always been times of proclamation and witness for the church. We must be always ready to give an answer when unsaved people attack us (1 Peter 3:15) The Spirit witnesses us so that we can witness to the world (Mark 13:11). Apart from the power of the Spirit of God, we cannot give a clear witness for Christ (Acts 1:8)
This is no reason for the believer to stumble, John 16:1 says, “to be offended when the world turns against us.” We should expect persecution, as Jesus has told His disciples. We should not stumble as well when other religious leaders attack us, when they think they are serving God when they do so.
The word “service” translated in vs 2 means “priestly service” This statement is a description of Saul, who thought he was serving God by destroying the church.
It is always tragic when religious people persecute and murder in the name of God. While it is true that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church, Tertullian said this. It is also true that their blood is the stain on the pages of History.
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