‘Four Christians in China are facing prison sentences of between 18 months and five years for involvement in the distribution of audio Bibles. A fifth Christian involved in a separate business is currently on trial and could face a similar sentence. It’s part of a wider government campaign to ‘eradicate pornography and illegal publications’. (For a fuller story of government opposition to the Christian faith in China – https://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/latest-news/christians-china-audiobibles/ )
It is important to understand what Jesus meant by the “world.” v19 When he speaks of the world hating himself and his disciples. Some might consider the world to be anything non-religious but it was clear that religious people made up a significant portion of those who hated and persecuted him. Jesus’ meaning included the whole system that is in rebellion against God and that may include aspects of rebellion. It also includes individual and societal rebellion against the name of Jesus. ‘But all these things they will do on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me.’ v21 The name of Jesus represents his identity as the Son of God and the existence or authority of God the Father. The extract above from China is an example of political and philosophical hatred of Jesus and his followers. In that case they invoked a law outlawing pornography including the bible as equivalent material. Societal opposition does not have to be so formally organised. Materialism in terms of valuing the acquisition of goods and wealth as the goal of life forms a dominant opposition in the West. As does materialism in terms of excluding the possibility of anything existing outside of what can be measured in the physical world also sets itself up in rebellion against Jesus. This is despite advocates of materialism not facing up to the contradictions such a position causes within how they live their own lives.
Opposition to Jesus is heightened by what he said and did because it reveals their rebellion towards God. God views their rebellion as sin and the rebel wishes to assert it as good. In Western society having many sexual partners is commonly endorsed as good. Drunkenness is approved of as having a good time. Using foul language is often approved of, and gossip is to be relished. Those with wealth and power often place their right to increase their wealth above the needs of others who are greatly disadvantaged. Attitudes towards the distribution of Covid 19 vaccines have seen rich countries placing the lives of their citizens and the profit of pharmaceutical companies above the needs of the world’s poorest as good and fair policy. Similarly, if a Christian teaches what Jesus taught they will also open themselves up to opposition and even personal hatred. The purpose of Jesus’ teaching the truth is not vindictive but to open a way for people to repent and turn to him for forgiveness and be included in the Kingdom of God. There will be those who will respond in that way but there will be others who hate Jesus without cause. v25
When Jesus performed miracles of mercy that enraged opposition. v24 Some accused him of doing so by the power of the devil. Others accused him of breaking the law. When God’s people are engaging in his works of mercy whether through miraculous means or simple kindness there will be those who make accusations that it is done for evil motives. There is considerable opposition to church schools in our society, there are those who accuse acts of mercy by churches as having purely impure motives. This is done because of a rejection of the name of Jesus and his Father.
Jesus’ teaching, actions and life sharply divides people. 2 Corinthians 2.16 However, we are not left without help.
Are we prepared to be known as Jesus’ disciple?
When Trials Come – Keith & Kristyn Getty