I have a friend that is hard to like sometimes! And I’m sure my friend feels the same way about me… if not worse! I love her dearly, but she is somewhat of a difficult person when it comes to me. We have been friends for decades and our lives have been intertwined. We have shared so many of life’s happiest moments together, and mourned together over life’s devastating blows! But here’s the bottom line… I am a Christian and she is not! And for some reason that often rubs her the wrong way! I often rub her the wrong way! My heart is broken over her! She doesn’t know that I pray daily for her and have conversations about her with the Father, begging Him to let me love her more, to let her love me too and to open her precious eyes to see the TRUTH.
I’m sure many of you may have experienced the same thing. Sometimes our Christian walk becomes a wedge… an offense… stumbling block to the people we love. I’m sure part of it is that we are probably not doing this life right! We, as Christians, don’t walk the walk we talk! So true! We are sinners just like the rest of everyone walking around this planet. We need to get better at loving people!
And even when we are living life according to our beliefs, doing life in a close relationship with Christ… we are still a wedge… and offense… and a stumbling block to many people!
I cling to John 15 because in that chapter of the Bible I have found great truth about this kind of situation!
I hope it will help you too so let’s go back to 1st century Israel and look into a beautiful and bittersweet scene from the Bible.
Jesus and his disciples have just left the upper room in Jerusalem where they have celebrated the Passover. It’s Jesus’ last supper He will share on this earth with his friends before He dies. He knows his suffering and crucifixion and death are only hours away.
Jesus and his group of eleven men are traveling from their supper, late at night, across the magnificent city of Jerusalem. The city is packed to overflowing with both Jews and Roman military. It is the time of one the great feasts that all Jews are commanded by God to go “up” to Jerusalem to celebrate.
Once outside the walls of the city Jesus and the disciples embark down a steep, steep slope called the Kidron Valley. And at the bottom of the valley they make their way up the other side. Up the Mount of Olives. About half way up is a garden… really an olive grove… called Gethsemane. Gethsemane means “olive press”. Jesus will spend the remaining hours of His time as a free man praying!
As the Lord and His disciples travel from the upper room to the olive grove, Jesus is teaching! And what He is teaching his friends, those who will witness His suffering and most shameful death, are some very important last things!
If I were on my deathbed with my loved one’s around I would not talk about the weather… or the football scores… or any frivolous thing! I would want to impart to them the best of my wisdom, the most important things to remember! I think that is exactly what Jesus did too!
Jesus is waking and teaching and speaking to these men from an urgent, full heart! He is talking about how they should behave to one another and to the world.
“THIS IS WHAT I COMMAND YOU, THAT YOU WOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER.” John 15:17
Not a request, not a suggestion, but a command from the eternal King! Jesus is commanding His disciples to love one another. Probably not the love we think about. But AGAPATE… a love that sacrifices oneself for another. A love that costs something.
“IF THE WORLD HATES YOU, YOU KNOW THAT IT HAS HATED ME BEFORE IT HATED YOU.” John 15:18
The word “if” in this verse really means: know this for sure. So Jesus is saying, know for sure that the world will hate you because it has hated me. The world, the system that is under the power of Satan will hate anyone that follows Jesus. Do you know this for sure? Well, you should!
“IF YOU WERE OF THIS WORLD, THE WORLD WOULD LOVE IT’S OWN; BUT BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT OF THIS WORLD, BUT I CHOSE YOU OUT OF THIS WORLD, THEREFORE THE WORLD HATES YOU.” John 15:19
Those who buy into the world’s system, the one opposed to Christ, are loved by the world. Not loved in the the way God asks us to love, but a love that benefits the world and not the person. A person who is chosen by Christ will not, and you must believe this, will not be loved by the world!
Let’s boil this down to a very personal, every day way of thinking!
In this world there are really only two reactions to the followers of Christ. LOVE (agape love- sacrificing for you) or HATE.
As a rule, the world and all who hate Christ will also hate you! Why? Because they are convicted on a spiritual level, one so deep they don’t really even perceive it. The Holy Spirit living in you convicts them of the way they are living and their need for a Savior. Because you love them, through the power of the Holy Spirit, you are giving the Holy Spirit freedom to do His work!
Jesus also tells His disciples on their last walk…
‘BUT I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, IT IS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE THAT I GO AWAY; FOR IF (again, know for sure) I DO NOT GO AWAY, THE HELPER SHALL NOT COME TO YOU; BUT IF I GO, I WILL SEND HIM TO YOU.
AND HE, WHEN HE COMES, WILL CONVICT THE WORLD CONCERNING SIN, AND RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUDGEMENT;
CONCERNING SIN, BECAUSE THEY HAVE NOT BELIEVED IN ME” John 16:7-9
When Jesus ascended to the Father He did not leave us alone! Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to indwells each believer! What a gift!
When we as believers meet the world the Holy Spirit convicts them through us! Even in our sinfulness (and we are sinful) He can do His work of showing the world they need a Savior. And this rubs the world the wrong way! It makes them hate us, because they hate Jesus and don’t want a Lord! They don’t want to do things the King’s way because they want to do things their own way!
The OTHER reaction the world will have towards us is they will be so attracted to us. Not us really, but to the Holy Spirit in us. They will want to know what we have that they don’t.
Jesus in John chapter 10 calls Himself the Good Shepherd. He goes on to say…
“THE SHEEP HEAR HIS VOICE AND HE CALL HIS OWN SHEEP BY NAME AND THE FOLLOW HIM”. John 10:3.
Though us the Holy Spirit is calling for the world to be followers of Jesus. And some people we rub elbows with will pick up their little sheepy ears and hear! They will be convicted too! But when they are convicted they will not hate it but believe it! They will hear the call and want to leave the world that loves them and wants to devour them like a wolf and join the beloved of Jesus who He loves so much He sacrificed Himself for!
There is one way we are to react to the world… no matter what! We are to love all people. Period! Why would anyone want to join a group that hates them or degrades them or puts them down? We are to love… AND LET THE HOLY SPIRIT IN US DO HIS WORK! We don’t need to judge, because the world is already judged by God! God is the judge, not us! Yes, there is a time a place for us to judge good and evil, but this is not it! We are to love people and hate what is sinful. Not hate people!
We must love and love and love and speak the TRUTH… in love and love some more! We must love even if it literally kills us. That is just what Jesus did!
The world will hate you but you are to keep on loving the people of this world!
And by doing that the Holy Spirit is convicting everyone around you! He is calling them to a relationship with their Creator, their King, their Savior!
I hope this helps you understand your position in Christ when it comes to the world. I hope you understand your position because you are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. I hope you understand how to love when people don’t love you!
So, that is why I will never give up on my lost friend. I want to love her right into the nail pierced hands of her Savior… no matter what it takes!