If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
One thing that we may fail to fully realize in our modern times is the fact that by all standards, Jesus was hated by most people that knew him. Certainly he had a large following, but more than that, he faced fierce opposition. Even in places where he worked miracles, people shunned him. Even in his own home town people called him crazy. The religious leaders, the people that should have been rejoicing over his arrival were the very ones who plotted his death.
Jesus was a polarizing figure. Those that loved him were the ones who needed grace and found it in him. Those that hated him were the ones who thought they needed none, and despised the grace he offered to others.
We usually have no problem saying or believing that we should be more like Jesus. We can probably all agree that our goal should be to live just the way that Jesus lived. (If it’s not, then the book of 1 John may help).
Let’s reflect on the implications of that kind of life. If we should live the way that Jesus did, and the world hated Jesus, how should the world logically be reacting to us Christians? It stands to reason that the world should be rejecting true believers the same way that it rejected Jesus. After all, Jesus did say just a few verses later in John 15:20, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
How different does your life look from the lives of those people around you that don’t know Christ? Are you following Christ so radically that the same people who reject him are also rejecting you? If not, it’s possible that we’re not doing it right.
People have, can, and will call Jesus a great variety of things. One thing that no one could ever call him is lukewarm, passive, or indifferent. A life following Jesus can be none of those things. A life following Jesus is a radical departure from the norm, a complete transformation. If that doesn’t describe you, I invite you to look a little closer at Jesus’ life and begin following him in true faith. The world may hate you, but it hated him first, and you can take comfort knowing that though you may be rejected by this world, you will never be rejected by God our Father.
Thank you for the example that Jesus set for us in his time on earth. I pray that you would embolden all believers to follow Jesus earnestly and in truth, not in a lukewarm, passive, or indifferent manner. I pray that you would open our eyes to those aspects of our faith that don’t match up with Jesus’ life and help us to correct them and to follow you all the more fervently.
In Jesus’ Name,