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John 15.18-25 – “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
20 “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
21 “But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
23 “Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’”
Did you notice that the world is said to hate Jesus? I counted the word “hate” six times in the above verses. Why is it that the world hates Jesus and Jesus’ followers?
Why is it that God loves the world enough to sacrifice his Son on the cross, yet the world hates Jesus? (see John 3.16).
How can this be? First, we have to make a distinction between the people of the world and the world’s system. God loves the people of the world, but no where does the Bible say that God loves the system of the world. The world’s system and God are in conflict.
The current system of the world is under the influence of Satan, whom Jesus calls “the ruler of this world” (John 14.30). The world’s system is so characterized by pride and self-centered striving that it always opposes God.
Psalm 2 is one of the clearest pictures of the attitude that comprises people who are aligned with the world’s system and against God.
1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
The systems of this world set themselves against God and his Anointed (Christ). They see serving God as bondage and resist coming under God’s authority.
The rulers of the world’s system also know that they will ultimately be destroyed.
John wrote, “For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life — is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2.16-17).
If we stand with Jesus, we cannot “cheat” on him and serve the world’s system when it seems convenient or pleasurable. James writes, “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4.4).
Think with me about Jesus’ words written earlier in this chapter. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you” (John 15.16).
Jesus has chosen us to not play by the rules of the world’s system. In fact, some of the “fruit” we produce is that we rescue people from the world’s system and help them to live with God.
“Jesus has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1.13-14). He has set us free, so we can help others get free from the tyranny of self, Satan and the world.
I had a crisis moment nearly fifty years ago. I was a frustrated preacher and considered leaving the ministry. The Holy Spirit graciously implanted Romans 1.16 in my heart – “the gospel is the power of God for salvation.” I didn’t leave the ministry and I have had the joy of seeing lives rescued year after year to the glory and pleasure of God.
This is the “fruit” God has called all of us produce. Helping others get free from the world is the joy of serving on Jesus team.
We are all invited to stand with Jesus and not “cheat” on him with the world. We are also all called to join the Holy Spirit in helping other people experience the joy of living under the direction and love of God.
How do we join our witness to that of the Holy Spirit?
John 15.26-27 – “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”
A witness tells what they know. The Holy Spirit comes from the Father and gives a truthful account of what he knows about Jesus (verse 26). We, also, have a role to play. We have been chosen by Jesus to tell what we know about Jesus, with the powerful assistance of the Spirit.
Here is a three step model that is helpful in joining with the Spirit in his work of witnessing to Jesus.
(1) Briefly tell what your life was like before you met Jesus.
(2) Tell how you met Jesus and became one of his friends.
(3) Tell what your life is like now, living as a friend of Jesus.
I recently spoke with a friend of mine who wants to talk to one of his friends about Jesus. I gave him this three-step process. Then I said, “Your job is to be a witness. You are a witness, not a salesman. Tell the story of your experience of God’s love, and let the Spirit draw your friend to Jesus. He will close the deal for you. You can trust him to do that.”
Let’s make a stand. If you have been “cheating” on Jesus by serving the world part-time and Jesus the rest of the time, go “all in” with Jesus. Ask for his help to do whatever it takes to get there.
Who needs to know your salvation story? Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to that person, so he or she can experience God’s love like you have experienced it.
Dear God, Please fill us with your Spirit, guide us and empower us to stand on your side against the forces of evil – the world-system, our flesh and the devil. Please help us to be a part of your plan to deliver people from the world to become your friends and followers.