Sometimes I am so upset by the way the world treats Christians. It is acceptable to most of the world to hate Christians. On one social network where I share this blog, I see at least one derogatory post a day about Christianity, calling it a scam and us haters, calling the Bible hogwash and Our God imaginary. Some of the posts are quite cruel. These same people make posts about not judging others, about loving and accepting all people regardless. They call us hypocrites. But then I am reminded that they don’t understand. I am reminded that Jesus warned us about this. I remember that if the world doesn’t hate me then they are not recognizing Jesus in me.
Jesus had just told the disciples to love one another as He loved them. And He had told them the greatest love you could give was to lay down your life. He was about to lay His life down for us. Jesus said in verses 18-20,
“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.”
The world’s hatred of you is not personal. They hate you because Jesus is in you and they hate Him. They hate the Father. They hate the Spirit. If you abide in God, then the world will hate you. But that doesn’t give you license to hate them back.
God loves the world. God wants each one of them to know Him. You are His instrument to that effect. Love them as Jesus loves them. Love them completely and unconditionally. Love them with actions not futile and distant sentiment. That is how Jesus loves you. God gave up His Son for you. Jesus gave up His life for you. The Spirit gifts and empowers you, teaches, guides, comforts, heals, and transforms you.
The world will persecute you. Most of us will probably never have to face physical torture or death for Jesus, but it happens. People are being beheaded, brutalized, and excommunicated for Jesus. Surely, you and I can love people through their disgusting rude remarks, their blasphemy, and their insults.
The world doesn’t know the Father, they do not recognize Jesus, and they don’t have the Spirit. They can’t love who they do not know. They can’t know Him unless you reveal Him. Jesus came to the world and He showed them the Father. He did awesome things. He proved He is Christ. And He completed it by dying and resurrecting. The world doesn’t have the excuse anymore. The Spirit came and He provides the way to understand the truth. He provides the way to reveal Jesus. That is why it is so important for you and me to take seriously the command to love others as Jesus loves us. Jesus is their only hope of salvation. It breaks God’s heart that people will die without the grace that He so longs to give. It should break ours too.
Verses 26-27 read,
“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.”
Jesus loved the world through beatings, mocking, and torment. That is how Jesus loves. He loves perfectly and unconditionally. He never withdraws the offer of forgiveness. His grace is as steadfast as is His faith and love. We cannot love any less than that. Yet, I know I fall short all the time. I want to slap the other person’s cheek instead offering my other one. I want to prove their stupidity instead of proving God’s immense love. I want to hurt them back. And sometimes I do. But God doesn’t change His love for me based on my love for others. He loved me first and always. His love is unwavering and persistent. He wants the same of you and me, not just toward Him but toward people.
Let’s choose to love people like that. Let’s choose to be the gift of love, hope, and truth for the world.