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Jesus warns His disciples that they will be hated by the world. He says in John 15: "If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master ' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me."
It's clear the world will hate Jesus' disciples. If you believe that the world hates you, two consequences will emerge. FIRST-There is a tendency to feel like a helpless minority, living in a world that rejects you. 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 power block to force people to obey your rules and standards.
SECOND-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!
This is still happening today-even this past week. A group of "influential" and "intelligent" Christians "taking a stand" against three noble causes, none of which compares to the pre-eminence or transforming power of Jesus. 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. It's a refusal to make the main thing the main thing. The main thing is Jesus, not these or any other issues no matter how important you believe them to be.
"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.
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." And then Luke records some interesting words along this same line that gives us even more clarification on the kind of hate Jesus is talking about. In the 6th chapter of Luke Jesus says: "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of Me."
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. This brings us to SECRET #55: The follower of Jesus knows he will be hated by the religious world.
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.
Note Jesus' disciples are hated by the religious world primarily because of the name of Jesus: "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me." This is what's missing in the Christian world today-the matchless name of Jesus! Instead of taking a stand against sin and sinners or for the traditional Christian faith and tenets; take a stand with Jesus-simply Jesus.