FOR AUDIO VERSION CLICK HERE.This is a very common myth within the teachings of Jesus. I lived under its influence and intimidation for years. Jesus was hated by the world and so should His disciples.
The damage here is threefold. FIRST-Those who follow Jesus and His teachings tend to feel intimidated by those who do not. When you feel intimidated by what the world might think of you, then you don't act freely and normally in front of those of the world. If this is true for you, then you will either avoid or withdraw from the people of the world or you might overcompensate and try to control the people of this world and put them into your religious box. So the result is either a holy huddle (we four and no more) or a Christian a power block to force people to obey your rules and standards.
SECOND-The gap between those who follow Jesus becomes so wide that you can tend to think that you have nothing in common. You, who are believers, ride on the white horses while those who are unbelievers, ride the dark horses-and they are lame.
THIRD-There is a tendency to "take a stand" for righteousness and to establish sacred noble causes that are all opposed to the world. Several years ago, Bob Briner in his book, Roaring Lambs, used to have as a subtitle: "7 Noble Causes That Keep Christians from Changing the World". He listed the following:
1. Squabbling over prayer in public schools! 2. Making Jesus a right-winger! 3. Thwarting the homosexual agenda! 4. Fighting other Christians over doctrinal purity! 5. Shutting down the abortion clinics! 6. Cleaning up television! 7. Fighting for family values!
These may be noble causes, but when they become the focus and the "stand" you must take against the world, they push the world away from Jesus. I've added several more of these noble causes today. By "taking a stand" we set ourselves up as the righteous ones and all others who don't agree are the unrighteous. "Taking a stand" becomes so ugly. It's no wonder Christians are known for their condemning and judgmental spirit and not for the love of Jesus. For example, it's impossible to say to a homosexual, "I love you." Then, to tell him he is going to hell for being a homosexual. You just can't it both ways.
It is a very simple thing to debunk this myth by what Jesus taught His disciples about the world, yet I have stumbled over this passage for years. In John 15 Jesus says, "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first." He goes on to say, "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also." I skipped over this for years, because I found this not to be true in my experience. The world seemed to love me. It was the religious who seemed to always give me the most grief. So, underneath I had this secret fear that I wasn't in sync with Jesus.
Now, it's been my experience that when you are troubled by something in the scriptures, keep reading. In John 16, Jesus clarifies who this world is: "All this I have told you so that you will not fall away. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the hour is coming when those who kill you will think they are offering a service to God."
Who is the world? Who are these people? They will put you out of their synagogues-their religious establishments-and will think that they are doing a righteous act-the right thing-as they come against you. They will think they are offering a service to God by their actions. Who are these people? They are the religious ones who are at the helm of their man-made systems and simply Jesus-Jesus plus nothing-interrupts what they already have going for them.
The world is not the secular world system, but the religious. We have more in common with the fellow travelers of the world than with the religious. It's the religious who believe they have it altogether and don't have need for Jesus that Jesus criticized and attacked. He called them vipers and painted tombstones. He really wasn't nice to them, because they are the greatest threat to the Jesus movement today. The non-religious are much more attracted to Jesus and to you as you practice the principles and teachings of Jesus and lovingly touch them.