JOHN: The Book of Heartfelt Belief
Devoted Disciples Relating to the World
Jerry A. Collins
We have learned from this chapter about devoted disciples relating to Jesus by abiding in Him. Then devoted disciples relating to one another in love. Now devoted disciples relating to the world through persecution.
(1) The attitude of the world toward the Christian 18-20.
It is interesting how swiftly the Lord moves from His words about love for one another to this word about the worlds hatred of us. First, we note that there is nothing personal about this type of reaction if the world hates you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. The world refers to secular society in general. The world is an organized society without God or His standards or values. It is a godless system and hates what the believer represents. So Jesus says ‘it happened to me’, too. Jesus experienced it and he was perfect. We can expect the same when we talk about our faith.
Second, This reaction will come because you are now a different person than you were 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 therefore the world hates you. You are different and the world does not like anything different. The unrelenting pressure of society around us is to conform us, to shape us up. This is why the scriptures urge us not to be conformed to the world around us because it dislikes nonconformity and will try to change it. Now if the church seeks status with the world around it, then the world will appreciate the church, pat it on the back and support it. But when it stays true to Christ and His truth then the world will hate it, stand against it.
Third, this persecution cannot be avoided. Remember the word that I said to you a slave is not greater than his master. Not only does the world hate the believer but it also works to get rid of the Christian faith, Christian teaching and even Christians. History teaches this to us. It cannot be avoided, so face up to it. It is part of following Jesus.
Fourth, we learn that it will be universal. If they persecuted me they will persecute you if they kept my word they will keep yours also. There will also be much success associated with our persecution. There will be some who will listen, who will be changed and delivered. So take heart. They will keep your word. Some kept mine Jesus said. Not all will hate it and persecute it. Some will receive. Some will believe. We can never expect to win the masses or the world for Christ. Jesus did not.
(2). Reasons for this attitude of the world 21-25
First, the worlds hatred is deep-rooted but all this they will do to you on my account. Persecution is not going to be eliminated. It is here to stay. We should not try to find ways to live for Christ that will bring the least resistance. The reason for this deep-rooted hatred is because they do not know him who sent me. This even refers to the religious leaders of Jesus day. Men who prided themselves on their knowledge of God but not the true and living God. They had the wrong God, a false god. It did not and does not understand Christ. It thinks of him in a distorted and twisted way. So the persecution we face is because people are ignorant of the real God tho they may even think they know him. Instead they carve an image of God to their liking and that is idolatry. Second, they deliberate reject Jesus words and works. The worlds ignorance, does not give it an excuse because they had heard his words and saw his works and when exposed to these still rejects it. With Jesus coming they have no excuse for their sin. When the world rejected Christ they manifested that they hate my Father also vs 23. They ignored his works, the one predicted about Christ and compounded their hate. Their ignorance has been brought to light since knowing the truth manifested by Christ they rejected it vs 24 but now they have both seen and hated me and my father as well. But Jesus says it was all a fulfillment of prophecy. God knew it would happen just like it did. They fulfilled the word of prophecy that said: They hated me without a cause (Psa. 35:19; 69:4). While viewing Jesus words and works they rejected them resulting in increased hatred and violence culminating in the crucifixion nailing him to the cross so there is no excuse. They are culpable for what they have done.
(3) Our attitude to the hatred of the world 15:26-6:4
First, witness to it in the power of the Holy Spirit vs 26. The Holy Spirit is a witness within you and me. a witness that Jesus is truly alive, my Lord, powerful and sovereign. This will encourage me to witness to a hostile world. The Spirit of God opens hearts and minds, removes blindness so people can see and understand the truth they once spurned.
Second, we are to bear witness to the world vs 27. He is first referring to these apostles who will have that special ministry when Christ ascends. So the world is not to be left in its hopeless rejection of Christ--there is a witness within us and our witness too. God has not abandoned the world, turned his back upon it and walked away. So we should not retaliate, resent the worlds hatred nor be vindictive returning evil for evil. Nor should we withdraw from the world and build Christian ghettos where we can hide ourselves until Jesus returns. We are to move in this world, live in the middle of it and bear witness of Jesus and His truth even if resisted and rejected.
Third, keep at it despite the fierceness of the persecution 16:1-2. If we run into this kind of mistreatment, if hated or ostracized, recognize it is part of the course. It will naturally follow. It should not be surprising to you. It is not strange, it is part of the process do not stumble they will make you outcasts from the synagogue...who kills you thinking he is offering service to God. Paul even said about his persecution before Nero, The Lord stood by me and gave me the strength to proclaim the message fully (2 Tim 4:17). Peter tells us not to be surprised at the fiery ordeal which comes upon you as tho something strange was happening to you (1 Pt 4:12).
Fourth, do not be surprised when it comes because we have been forewarned 16:3-4. Get rid of the dream of settling down in this world to be liked by everybody with no problems or hardships associated with my faith in Christ. There is a war going on and we are in a battle. I am not sure what form persecution will take for you but it will take shape because you love Jesus and want to follow Him.