The past few years, I have made it a point to read through the entire Bible within the years’ 365 days. It has been a wonderfully rewarding experience and I plan to do it again sometime soon.
But, for 2018, I wanted to slow down and engage in reflective reading.
This morning, I started reading, highlighting, and reflecting on John 7:1 and made it to verse 9. I wanted to share a few thoughts from one of those verses.
But, first, the context. Jesus’ brothers made it clear that they didn’t believe in Jesus – at least not yet. They told Jesus that if He was really who the crowds claimed He was, then He needed to go down to Jerusalem for the big celebration (Feast of Booths) and make Himself known.
But, Jesus rejected their suggestion. Here is what He said to them:
John 7:6–8 (ESV) “Jesus said to them, ‘My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. You go up to the feast. I am not going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.'”
Notice in verse 7 that Jesus said: “The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”
When Jesus said “the world,” he wasn’t talking about the created order. He was referring to the world-system that sets itself against God. He was talking about the general notion among humanity to reject God and His authority over them.
So when Jesus said that “the world cannot hate you,” he was talking to his brothers who were presently unbelievers. They were part of the world system and didn’t pose a threat to it. They believed the same things that the unbelievers around them believed. They behaved the way unbelievers behaved. They laughed at the same jokes. They had the same general life priorities. So, there would be no reason for the world to hate them – they fit right in.
But, when Jesus referred to Himself in verse 7, He said: “…but it [the world] hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.”
Jesus was saying that He didn’t fit into the world’s mold. His words and His very life were like a light exposing the sinfulness of the world system around Him. So, the world hated Him.
This is a great time for reflecting on our own life and how the sinful world system around us treats us. Simply put, does the sinful world system around us embrace us as part of them or do they hate us? Certainly there are some Christians who are jerks and are hated for that reason. But, that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re talking about someone who is passionately following Jesus and therefore shines a light on the sinful world system around them.
- Do you watch the same television programs and movies that your lost friends watch even though it celebrates what God condemns?
- Do you listen to the same music that celebrates what God condemns?
- Do you laugh at the same jokes?
- Do you engage in the same gossip?
- Do you refuse to forgive just as the lost world system does?
- Etc., etc., etc.
If you think and live like the world, you aren’t going to have much trouble from them. Why? Because you are a part of them.
But, if you think and act like Jesus, there are going to be times when the lost world around you isn’t going to like you. Your life and your pursuit of holiness is going to stand as a testimony against them. They know that many of the things they are doing are wrong and violate their conscience and your words and lifestyle will only rub salt into the wound.
ONE LAST THING:
If we are pursuing holiness, there are going to be times when the world hates us. But, how are we to relate to the world?
Simply put, even when the world hates us like it hated Jesus, we are to love the world just as Jesus did.
John 3:16 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
We love the sinful world system because it is made up of people who will either spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. If we choose to love them, then we will overlook their mistreatment of us and continue to look for ways to share God’s wonderful news of the Gospel with them. We wouldn’t want our worst enemy to spend eternity in Hell.
So live for Jesus today, friend. You may be hated for it. That’s just part of living for Jesus. But, don’t hate back. Love! In so doing, God may use you to bring someone else into the Kingdom!