Saturday, November 05, 2016

God's Children Are Hated

Jesus prophesied that the world will hate his people.

John 15:18-20   “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.  19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.  20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’

John 16:1-3  "I have told you these things so that you won't abandon your faith.  2  For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God.  3  This is because they have never known the Father or Me.

Jesus has been preparing his disciples for his death by teaching them one more time, he has taught them to serve and love each other, he has assured them that he is in control of the events that are about to take place and he has attempted to strengthen their faith for the difficulties ahead. Now he talks to them about the hatred that they will soon experience.

Hate is a strong word, there probably are not very many people that I know that would say that they hate Jesus, they would point to his good deeds and morality and say nice things about him. If you asked the same group of people if they follow the devil they would probably say that they would never do that.

These people really are not followers of Jesus but they don't have any idea that they are actually following the devil. There are only two possible states that you can be in, Jesus doesn't give you the option to be neutral, he says that if you are not for him then you are against him and you either love the light or you love the dark. (Matthew 12:30 / John 3:19-21 / 1 Thessalonians 5:5)

Looking back at the history of the world it doesn't take long to realize that Jesus prophecy about the persecution of his followers would be proven to be true. The same persecution that killed Jesus begins in Acts 3 to come against Peter when he begins to preach the gospel and the persecution is not going to stop until he returns.

Why does the world hate us so much?

✔  Because we are not part of their system
"I chose you to come out of the world"

We do not blend in with the rest of society, we act different, we talk different and we refuse to be a part of things that don't please God. The ways of the world and the things that they accept are not acceptable to us.

In the Old Testament God had a people, their diet, clothes and religion were all different from the rest of the culture. In the church age God still has a people, they don't have to maintain the differences of his Old Testament people, but they are still different.

The world cannot stand it! You don't love what they love, you don't live for pleasures, achievements and possessions and you have been moved to a new kingdom. (Colossians 1:13-14 / 1 John 2:15-16)

✔  Because they hated our leader
"They will do all this to you because of Me"

Jesus made it clear that the world is going to treat us like they treated him, from the time he was born and the king set out to get him by killing every baby, to the day he was tortured to death. Christians are the most loved of all people by God and they are the most hated of all people by Satan.

His followers in the early church made huge sacrifices because of their faith. In the United States we have been blessed with the best treatment that a followers of Jesus has ever enjoyed. While Christian brothers and sisters around the world are persecuted we live with comfort and pleasures that are unthinkable to them.

It is very tempting to stay away from persecution by telling people the stuff about our faith that doesn't offend, prayer and faith are okay but if you cross the line and talk about the reality of death, and judgment, and hell then the ability to be friends with the world starts to fade.

✔  Because they don't know God
"they have rejected the one who sent me" 

Think about the audience that Jesus was speaking to when he said that they do not know God. The religious leaders were paid professionals that should have known God better than anyone.

They should have known God, they had the Torah, the teachings of the Rabbis and the prophets but with all of that evidence God still wasn't well known. (John 7:28-29, 8:19, 54-55, 16:3, 17:25 / 1 John 2:3-4)
Overcome The Hate
John 15:26-27  “But I will send you the Advocate, the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
All of this bad news was difficult to handle, the disciples had abandoned all for Jesus, he didn't want to leave them without hope. If they decided to give up and walk away from everything that Jesus had taught them then the Christian faith wouldn't get beyond Ancient Palestine.

He tells them that he will not leave them as orphans but instead he would send them help that would be through his power living inside of each of them so that they could endure the hate that they would face.

How to treat your enemy

(Exodus 23:4-5 / 2 Kings 6:22 / Proverbs 25:21-22 / Luke 6:27-28, 6:34-35, 23:34 / Acts 7:60 / 1 Corinthians 4:12-13, 13:4-8 / 1 Peter 2:23, 3:9)
Romans 12:17-21  Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.  18  Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.  19  Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, "I will take revenge; I will pay them back," says the LORD.  20  Instead, "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads."  21  Don't let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.
The Bible has a lot to say about treating our enemies much better than they deserve. We were all enemies of the King but God so loved the world that he came to love us anyway. The extravagant love of Jesus demands that I treat people the same way and the Holy Spirit is my help so that I can do it.

The Holy Spirit will always be with us helping us through this evil world, the promise that we have is that we will never be alone, the Holy Spirit will be with us even when our faith and obedience takes us to places that are not safe to love people that are not very lovable by the world's standards.

I need to be ready to follow Jesus anywhere he ask me to go, beyond where it is safe and easy, I need to be ready to forgive, pray for and do good to anyone that wants to treat me wrongly because of my faith.

Dear Jesus, I pray for believers around the world that are taking a stand for you, I pray that they will stand strong, I pray that you will change the hearts of those that are persecuting them and I pray that the gospel will continue to spread.

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church - November 6, 2016