26 August 2017John 15:18-26
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.” (v. 18)
Psalm: Psalm 68:24-35
Surely, the last thing we need is more talk about hatred, especially hatred in the name of religion. We have a difficult passage to reflect upon today. It seems important to remember two things - first that the Bible generally uses "the world" in two different senses. There is both the world that God created - which God described as good in Genesis 1 and the world, representing human life which has turned against God's kingdom of love and justice. Jesus experienced 'the world' in both of these senses; the world of creation and of the crowds where he reached out again and again to demonstrate God's love to the weakest, the poorest and those alienated by religion, and 'the world' in the sense of religious authorities and an invading empire which turned against him and hated him. Perhaps we need to see here not more hatred in the name of religion, but a salutary warning that when the world is already divided we have to be realistic about the cost of standing with Jesus for God's love and justice. Sadly, we have to be very careful about claiming we are being persecuted 'for Jesus' sake'. We cannot ignore the fact that Christians have been guilty of stirring up hatred in the name of religion.
In verse 20 Jesus asked us to remember that he had said this before (John 13:16), when he washed his disciple's feet and commanded them to love each other in the same way. So perhaps we need to ponder both images together, standing with Jesus in the call to humble loving service and also standing with him in accepting that serving and speaking up for love and truth may cause others to turn against us.
- In what ways might Christians seek or expect to be 'greater than Jesus'?
- In what ways have you paid the price of standing with Jesus against 'the world'? Or in what ways might you?
Bible notes author