If the world hates you

The world. Unredeemed society, estranged from God, held in the grip of sin and the evil one, blind to spiritual truth and hostile to those who have the life of God in them… Hostility is rooted in spiritual dissimilarity.

Everett F. Harrison, The Wycliffe Bible Commentary

More and more, it would seem, the world hates the Church. I don’t believe that it is so much because we carry a message of hate—our message is quite the opposite—but that they do not understand our message. It’s different than what they’ve been told to think. Talk to anyone who is militantly against faith in Christ. More often than not, they don’t even know why they carry so much anger or hatred nor do they know enough of the Bible to make any relevant argument against the faith.

As frustrating as this can be to Christians around the world, Jesus gave us fair warning.

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, That is why the world hates you.

John 15:18-19 (NIV)

People fear what they do not know and that fear can easily be turned into hatred. A child may claim that he hates all vegetables. As it is unlikely that he has tried every vegetable in existence, it can be assumed that their conclusion of dislike for all produce stems from either a bad experience with vegetables or a fear of the unknown. That which hasn’t been sampled can seem strange and different and uncomfortable.

The world’s ignorance is the true cause of its hatred to the disciples of Jesus. The clearer and fuller the discoveries of the grace and truth of Christ, the greater is our sin if we do not love him and believe in him.

Matthew Henry

The mention of Jesus, however, elicits a far stronger reaction than broccoli. Most people who claim to hate Jesus along with those who follow him really know nothing about him and what he really taught. Their opinions are often based on hearsay or that one bad experience. Because we don’t share common values or beliefs, we all become like vegetables—hated for no other reason than being a vegetable, or in our case, Christians.

There are those who believe that, if Christians would just act more like the rest of the world, it would be better. Wrong. It wouldn’t be better. Jesus called us out of the world. We shouldn’t look like the world. That’s like a mother mashing cauliflower and carrots into the potatoes to make her kid eat vegetables. Sure, the cauliflower is still cauliflower and the carrots are still carrots, but they’ve been blended in with the potatoes so much, you can no longer tell what’s what. The original substance, texture, shape, and flavour has all been lost.

How did Jesus respond to the haters? He loved them. It is our love for one another and our love for the world that sets us apart.

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

Luke 6:27-31 (NIV)

Read: 2 Chronicles 17-19, John 15

The verdict

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved the darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done was been done through God.

John 3:19-21 (NIV)

A verdict, according to Noah Webster, is a decision, a judgment, an opinion pronounced. Jesus proclaimed a verdict. He declared that something like no other had come into the world. Webster also said this of light:

This word furnishes a full and distinct explanation of the original sense of light, to throw, to dart, shoot or break forth. [Light is] that ethereal agent or matter which makes objects perceptible to the sense of seeing, but the particles of which are separately invisible. It is now generally believed that light is a fluid, or real matter, existing independent of other substances, with properties peculiar to itself.

I was sitting in a meeting with my pastor the other day and the power went out. For a while we were able to continue using our laptops and tablets on battery, but as evening progressed, the room got darker and darker. The atmosphere changed in the absence of light. We looked at things differently as we continued our discussion in the dark.

The detection of light is a very powerful tool for probing the universe around us. As light interacts with matter it can be become altered and by studying light that has originated or interacted with matter, many of the properties of that matter can be determined.

What is Light, www.andor.com

Isn’t it amazing how a scientific explanation reaffirms what the Bible said thousands of years ago? When light interacts with matter, we can learn stuff about that matter. When the Light interacts with people, it says something about us.

When God introduced light into the universe, it was not the sun or any other star. He introduced His own Son, and in him was life, and that light was the light of men (John 1:4). Without Jesus first being sent out, life would not exist. We cannot exist without light.

Naturally speaking, a person may not die strictly due to a lack of light, but other issues caused by perpetual darkness can lead to serious illness or death. Benefits of natural light include:

  • boosting vitamin D storage, which helps absorb calcium and can aid in the prevention of certain types of cancer;
  • higher productivity;
  • healthier vision;
  • better sleep;
  • mood improvement.

If our physical bodies were created with a need for natural light, wouldn’t it stand to reason that our spiritual bodies were also created with a need for Light? Our bodies thrive when the sun comes out. Our spirits thrive when the Son comes out.

So what’s your verdict? Do you hate the Light and do evil or do you love the Light and do good? Like a trial in the court of law, there can only be two choices when it comes to a verdict, guilty or innocent. Evil or good? Dark or Light?

Read: 1 Kings 21-22, John 3:1-21

The great disturber

Read: Numbers 8-10, Mark 5:1-20

Charles Spurgeon said that the gospel is a great disturber of sinful peace. Take a moment to let that statement sink in.

Do you ever wonder why the greatest of sinners seem to make the greatest noise when confronted with the Gospel? Those who are most content in their sin are most disturbed by truth.

For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.

Mark 4:22 (NIV)

In Mark 5, Jesus came across a man who had been cast into the dark, hidden away and forced to live among the tombstones (a place no Jew would dare to go because they are considered ceremonially unclean). Why was this man put out of his home? Out of his city? Because he had residing within him a legion of evil spirits. Those spirits gave the man supernatural strength, yet caused him to run about naked and cutting himself. As soon as Jesus drew near, the evil spirits knew what they were confronted with—Truth. And they didn’t like it.

Mark 5-7-8.jpg

Spurgeon went on to say, they view Jesus as a tormentor, who will rob them of pleasure, sting their consciences, and drive them to obnoxious duties. Those who believe themselves to be happy and content in their sin and evil ways are under the notion that, should they accept the truth, they will be forced into a life of awful servitude. What they don’t see is that a life of truth is a life of freedom.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

John 8:32 (NIV)

Under the influence of evil spirits, the possessed man Jesus encountered was cast from him home, forced to live among the dead, stripped of his clothes (and dignity), and made to injure himself. Does this sound like a man who is free to do as he pleases? Whether a person is slave to a legion of evil spirits or a slave to a sin of their own choosing, a slave is a slave. There is no freedom to be found.

It wasn’t until after Jesus had cast the evil spirits from him that the man was free to live his own life. He wanted to travel with Jesus.

Jesus did not let him, but said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he was had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.

Mark 5:19-20 (NIV)

Had the man returned to his city and his family as he was, no one would have been amazed. No one is truly amazed by evil or sin or chasing after pleasure.

What amazes people is a life disturbed, disrupted, and changed by the power of the Gospel, that great disturber of sinful peace.

Silence the fools

It is God’s will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you. You are not slaves; you are free. But your freedom is not an excuse to do evil. You are free to live as God’s slaves.

1 Peter 2:15-16 (NLT)

The best way to prove a fool wrong is by your actions—not with malicious intent, but by simply living contrary to their foolish accusations.

The church is one of the most accused groups out there. It’s full of hypocrites. They just preach that prosperity stuff. The preachers all holler and spit. It’s only a place where weak people go.

The best way around all of those things is to live the exact opposite. Live with integrity. Preach a balanced message. Whisper and try not to drool. Be strong. Let the way you live exceed the expectations of others.

Be careful how you live among your unbelieving neighbors. Even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will believe and give honor to God when he comes to judge the world.

1 Peter 2:12 (NLT)

If you’ve ever tried to argue your point with a fool, you know that it is a fruitless waste of time.

Doing wrong is fun for a fool, but living wisely brings pleasure to the sensible.

Proverbs 10:23 (NLT)

The best response to a foolish accusation is to live a life above reproach. In living wisely, not only can we find pleasure and honor, but we silence the fools.

Daily Bible reading: Ezekiel 34-35, 1 Peter 2

Know Go(o)d

Ask anyone what good is. Then ask them what wicked is. Just about everyone will have a response. While responses to those questions may vary, the amazing thing is that nearly everyone can agree that good and wicked both exist. Not many people could tell you where the ideas come from or how we form our own opinions of what they are, but they exist nonetheless.

Does it really matter what we believe is good and what we believe is wicked? Does it matter if we all agree or disagree? Yes, it does.

But first, let’s take a look at Webster’s 1828 definitions of good and wicked:

GOOD: Having moral qualities best adapted to its design and use, or the qualities which God’s law required; virtuous, pious, religious; applied to persons, and opposed to bad, vitious, wicked, evil.

WICKED: Evil in principle or practice; deviating from the divine law; addicted to vice; sinful; immoral.

To know what wicked is, we simply have to know what it isn’t. It isn’t good. The more we know what good is, the more we are able to recognise wicked.

Who cares? Why do we need to know the difference? Didn’t God tell Adam and Eve to stay away from the tree of knowledge of good and evil? If Adam and Eve didn’t need to know, why do we?

Well, because Adam and Eve didn’t stay away from that tree. Before they ate the forbidden fruit, evil didn’t exist to them. They only knew good. They only knew God. As soon as they disobeyed God’s command and ate that fruit, evil entered their world. Now they knew the difference. We need to know the difference, too.

Oh, the joys of those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with scoffers.

Psalm 1:1 (NLT)

There are joys to be had in avoiding the wicked. What else?

But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants;
day and night they think about his law.

Psalm 1:2 (NLT)

Why would anyone want to do everything someone else wants? Remember that God is good. He only wants good things for us. Why wouldn’t we want to do what He wants?

They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season without fail.
Their leaves never wither,
and in all they do, they prosper.

Psalm 1:3 (NLT)

Now we get to the good part. The more we meditate on God’s Word, the more we understand who He is and the more we understand what good is. When we understand what good is, we recognise what wicked is. Then we can stay away from the wicked. When we stay away from wicked people and things, we become fruitful and prosperous.

Does this all make sense now? Know good. Stay away from wicked. Prosper.

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 1-3, Acts 16:1-15

Digest

Did you know that Jesus talked about the digestive system? It’s one of those topics many may say, “Oh, Jesus would never talk about that.” He did.

Don’t you understand?” Jesus asked him. “Anything you eat passes through the stomach and then goes out of the body.

Matthew 15:16-17 (NLT)

Yup, Jesus even referred to poop. Who knows, maybe that’s how he even said it to his disciples.

In this case, the disciples were wondering what Jesus meant when he told the Pharisees that you aren’t defiled by what you eat (there were strict Jewish laws regarding food and the eating thereof).

But evil words come from an evil heart and defile the person who says them. For from the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, all other sexual immorality, theft, lying, and slander. These are what defile you. Eating with unwashed hands could never defile you and make you unacceptable to God!

Matthew 15:18-20 (NLT)

How you choose to eat your lunch has no effect on your salvation. But what you allow out of your mouth when it comes to speech can have eternal repercussions.

Those who love to talk will experience the consequences, for the tongue can kill or nourish life.

Proverbs 18:21 (NLT)

The moral of the story is to worry less about what goes in to your mouth and how it gets there and more about what comes out of your mouth. Whatever goes in your mouth will come out of your body. But what comes out of your mouth is a sign of what is rooted in your heart.

Daily Bible reading: Genesis 4-50, Matthew 15:1-20

Sounds familiar

Sometimes, when I read the Bible, I forget that it was written thousands of years ago and not last week. Today David’s words ring as true as ever.

Fools say to themselves, “There is no God.”
Fools are evil and do terrible things;
none of them does anything good.

God looked down from heaven on all people
to see if anyone was wise,
if anyone was looking to God for help.
But all have turned away.
Together, everyone has become evil;
none of them does anything good.
Not a single person.

Don’t the wicked understand?
They destroy my people as if they were eating bread.
They do not ask God for help.
The wicked are filled with terror
where there had been nothing to fear.
God will scatter the bones of your enemies.
You will defeat them,
because God has rejected them.

I pray that victory will come to
Israel from Mount Zion!
May God bring them back.
Then the people of Jacob will rejoice,
and the people of Israel will be glad.

Psalm 53 (NCV)

Daily Bible reading: Psalm 53-55; Acts 27:26-44