‘It was a day like any other for Peninah in Kenya. She went to the market, leaving her phone behind, not expecting any calls. But then she returned home. And everything changed. Peninah’s phone was full of missed calls. Her husband, Paul, a lorry driver’s assistant, was on his way home from the Somali border when the lorry was stopped by al-Shabaab militants. They lined up everyone from the lorry and demanded that each person recite the Shahada, an Islamic creed. Paul didn’t know it and, as Peninah relates, he ‘told them he could not deny Jesus’. “If you want to kill me, I’ll remain in Jesus,” Paul told the attackers. “And if you let me go, I’ll still remain in Jesus.” He was shot dead.’ (Full story https://www.opendoorsuk.org/news/latest-news/violence-world-watch-list/ )
Jesus had just spoken about how he and the Father loved his disciples with a love greater than all others when out he comes with these words, like a punch to the jaw. ‘If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.’ v18 One can imagine some of the disciples taking a deep breath and thinking, “Wow! I am not sure that I signed up to be hated. I thought we had a message of love.” Jesus here sets a clear example of how the Christian church should be up front about the costs and consequences of discipleship. Jesus knew it was not fair to leave them with the mission to take the good news of Jesus to the world without warning them of the level of opposition they will face. Jesus himself had faced continuous opposition from the moment of his birth until he was finally cruelly falsely accused, tortured and then brutally executed. The accusations made against Jesus were: he broke the Sabbath, he blasphemed, he deceived people, he was demon possessed, of illegitimate birth, an apostate, a sinner, he was mad, a criminal, a Royal Pretender and a political threat. (NIV Study Bible page 2167) John was the only apostle thought to have not died for his faith in Jesus although at the time of writing Revelation he had been banished to the Island of Patmos.
Jesus was primarily addressing his particular disciples at the time in the context of his imminent execution and his subsequent resurrection followed by the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. However, all that he said then applies to his disciples now. There are Christians who try to live in both camps, attempting to conform to the Kingdom of God without giving up the ways of the world. This may arise from a lack of understanding of Jesus’ teaching but it may also be because they do not want to change or be different from the world surrounding them. Jesus draws a much sharper distinction. The world he says should not consider you as one of their own because, ‘I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.’ v19
Loving and obeying Jesus will cause you at times to be hated and that is likely to be an uncomfortable and unpleasant experience. If we have never experienced that then it may raise questions as to whether we are loving and obeying Jesus.
Jesus sums up the reason for this, ‘A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecute me, they will persecute you also. When we read Acts and the epistles we see the truth of Jesus’ words. Just as Jesus did they taught, healed the sick, lived their lives in humble community and befriended sinners and unclean foreigners. For this they were ridiculed, faced court hearings, were put in prison, were attacked by mobs and at various times killed. At no time did they politically oppose the authorities. But they did boldly preach the gospel.
This is the lived experience of many today. The evil one will oppose the gospel in all societies in many subtle and explicit ways. However, there will be those who if we teach what Jesus taught they will obey and respond to the gospel, believe and trust in him. ‘If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.’ v23
Do we down play the cost of being chosen out of the world? John 15.23
If so, what do you think are the consequences of teaching that discipleship is only ever positive or easy?
Trust & Obey – Chelsea Moon w/ the Franz Brothers