If the World Hates You
Text: John 15:18-25; 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Theme: Christians and persecution and responding to it
Date: 110115 File name: If_The_World_Hate_You.wpd ID Number: 160
In our passage from John’s Gospel, our text for the morning is part of an extended time of last-minute summation of Jesus’ teachings immediately following The Passover meal at which he instituted the Lord’s Supper. It is the last night of his life.
He begins with a comforting word to his disciples about preparing a place for them at the beginning of chapter 14 and concluded in chapter 17 with a glorious, high-priestly prayer for himself and his disciples — those with him and those in succeeding generations.
During this summation he reminds the Disciples of the results of faith in him.
• 1st, Faith in Jesus results in a radical change. When Christ enters a sinner’s life by repentance and faith, there is a radical change. It may not appear physically obvious to friend or neighbor or family, but the change is as radical as radical can be. You’ve gone from death to life! Starting in verse 18, Jesus says, “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.” This world is not your home, you’re just passing through. You no longer belong to the world though you remain in the world. The loyalty of your heart as shifted to a new king, and new homeland, and you’ll never feel entirely comfortable in this one any longer.
• 2nd, Faith in Jesus results in a radical challenge. Because there has been this radical change in us — which is Christ in us the hope of glory — there is the challenge of relating to a culture and world system that sees us as the enemy. The love between the Christian and our Christ alienates us from the world. One of the things people on the outside of Christianity can’t understand is our exclusive truth claim — uttered first by Jesus himself — that he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the no one comes to God except through him. From the outside — from the culture’s point of view, that looks incredibly narrow minded in what is supposed to be a pluralistic society. Neither does the world understand our renunciation of much of what the world has to offer. Like Christian passing through Vanity Fair we advert our eyes from the goods and wares of the world, and the vendors become incensed that we won’t purchase their products. Our challenge is to communicate to the world why our love for Jesus keeps us from purchasing what the world wants us to buy.
• 3rd, Faith in Jesus results in a radical conflict. Precisely because we don’t “buy into” the world’s ways, the world’s philosophies, and the world’s activities, they will never understand you. In some cases that lack of understanding will become hostility; in some cases they will kill us. In vs. 20 Jesus tells the disciples, “Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also ... They will treat you this way because of my name ... “ The world doesn’t like us because we will never put the world first. You may have a lot of trouble in this world because you won’t put your company first, because you won’t put your race first, because you won’t put your political party first, or even because you won’t put your family first. You can’t, because you see, there’s a Lord, and his name is Jesus, and he’s your first love and your greatest loyalty. This radical conflict frequently results in persecution.
So there’s a radical conflict which is caused by a radical change, and that radical change makes possible a radical challenge for us to enter into the world and to testify to what Jesus has done for us. And when you do, don’t be surprised when there is a radical reaction.
I. THE FACE OF PERSECUTION
"But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to
God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh." (2 Corinthians 4:7-11, ESV)
1. when we think of persecution we may think of Old Testament saints – particularly the prophets – who were persecuted for their faith and their messages
a. Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 5:12 “ ... for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
b. the Apostle Paul, writing in the Book of Hebrews, says of the Old Testament prophets:
"Some faced jeers and flogging, while still others were chained and put in prison. They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground." (Hebrews 11:36-38, NIV)
2. when we think of persecution most of us think of the early Christians being fed to the Lions in the Roman Colosseum
a. actually, very few Christians were ever killed in the Colosseum
1) it was the Circus Maximus – the arena where the chariot races were run – were most of the Christians of Rome were tortured and killed
ILLUS. For the first 200 years persecution of the church was sporadic and regional. The chief persecutors were zealous Jews like Saul before his conversion. It was the Roman Emperors Diocletian and Galerius who instituted the first Empire-wide persecution of believers in the early 4th century. It’s known as The Great Persecution. Beginning with a series of edicts banning Christian practices and ordering the imprisonment of Christian clergy, the persecution intensified until all Christians in the empire were commanded to sacrifice to the gods or face immediate execution. Over 20,000 Christians are thought to have died during Diocletian's reign.
3. we may even think of some of the great persecutions in history
ILLUS. A Catholic missionary by the name of Francis Xavier first introduced Christianity to Japan in 1549. More missionaries followed and soon a thriving Church of 300,000 existed in Japan. In 1633 the Shogun Tokugasa signed an edict outlawing the Christian faith, and he vowed to crush the Church in Japan. Over the next several years thousands were executed and thousands died in prisons and many were exiled. As is always the case, the Church went underground. In 1865, when Japan was opened to the western nations for trading, there were an estimated 60,000 Christians in Japan. These Christian communities had perpetuated the faith in hiding for two centuries.
ILLUS. One of the most horrendous acts of carnage took place on the other side of the
world in France–a Christian nation. In this case it was Christian persecuting Christian. We’ve come to call the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. In October 1572 French Catholics went on a Holocaust-type rampage, killing every Protestant they could find. Men, women, and children fell in heaps before the mobs and bloodthirsty troops. In one week, over 100,000 Protestants perished. It is said that the rivers of France are so filled with corpses that for many months no Frenchmen ate fish. In the valley of the Loire, wolves came down from the mountains to feed upon the bodies.
ILLUS. In 1900 the Boxer Rebellion in China saw 189 missionaries and their children, and 32,000 Chinese Christians are martyred.
ILLUS. Between 1894-1923 the Ottoman Empire conducted a policy of genocide against the Christian population living within its territory. The Sultan, Abdul Hamid II, issued an official governmental policy of genocide against the Christian Armenians in 1894. Over the next thirty years, systematic massacres took place, and 1.5 million Christians were slaughtered.
ILLUS. During the 20th century, the Communist dictators of the Soviet Union systematically set out to destroy any vestige of the Church in Russia. Toward that end, the Communist regime confiscated church property, ridiculed religion, harassed believers, and propagated atheism in the schools. It is estimated that some 20 million Christians (17 million Orthodox 3 million Roman catholic) died or were interned in gulags.
4. in Western culture, we no longer see this kind of persecution
a. we have stopped burning people at the stake
b. we have stopped disjointing people on the rack
c. we no longer have inquisitions
5. when Jesus says, “rejoice when you are persecuted” most of us really don’t understand what that means
a. however, millions of Christians around the world do
6. in this passage Jesus reveals that persecution has many faces to it
A. THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF PERSECUTION BY CRUEL ACT
1. though most of us will never experience real physical persecution of the kind our Christian forefathers did, many fellow believers around the world are not so lucky
a. in Matthew 10:16-36 Jesus paints a picture of what many saints are experiencing
• “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. 17 Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. 18 On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.” (Matthew 10:16–18, NIV)
• “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:21–23, NIV)
• “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn “ ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— 36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’” (Matthew 10:34–36, NIV)
2. in places like China, North Korea, Kenya, India, and virtually any place where Islam is the dominant religion, believers fully understand what Jesus meant when he said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves ... “
a. around the world today, Christians are being persecuted for their faith
1) some will be beaten and tortured for their faith
2) some will be arrested and thrown in jail for their faith
3) some will be betrayed to the authorities by a brother or a close friend because of their faith
4) some will be maligned or disparaged because of their faith in Christ
5) many will be displaced from their homes and their country for their faith
b. these things may not happen to you, but if they do, be aware that you are in good company
“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)
c. did you know that an estimated 150,000 people are killed every year just because they are Christians?
1) that means that by the end of this day 400 brothers or sisters in Christ will have been martyred for the faith somewhere in the world
4. Many Christians Will Be Persecuted by Cruel Acts of Violence
B. THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF PERSECUTION BY SLANDER
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me." (Matthew 5:11, NIV)
1. slander is making a false spoken statement damaging to a person's reputation
2. in the early days of Christianity the believers were falsely accused of all kinds of things
a. they were called atheists by their neighbors because they would not worship the pagan gods
b. they were called immoral because they would frequently meet in secret places where who-knows-what would take place during their “love feasts”
1) today we now it as The Lord’s Supper
c. they were called unpatriotic because they confessed loyalty to Christ as Lord and refused to worship the Roman Emperor
d. they were called cannibals because they “ate the body” and “drank the blood” of Jesus
4. have you ever been slandered because of your commitment to Jesus Christ?
ILLUS. Some of you may remember back in 2009 when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended a report that referred Pro-life Christians as “extremists” and compared them to terrorists. In 2013 Soldiers attending a pre-deployment briefing at Fort Hood say they were told that evangelical Christians and members of the Tea Party were a threat to the nation and that any soldier donating to those groups would be subjected to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. In June 2015 when the Supreme Court made Homosexual marriage legal nation-wide Justice Kennedy who wrote the majority opinion, bluntly said that defenders of traditional marriage are irrational bigots. Which is the last major group holding out against homosexual marriage? The Evangelical Christian community. You’re the irrational bigot according to Justice Kennedy.
a. if you are a bible-believing Christian, then this current administration refers to you as unreasonable, prejudiced extremists who are potential insurrectionists
5. Many Christians Will Be Persecuted by Slander
C. THE BIBLE SPEAKS OF PERSECUTION BY REPROACH
1. to reproach someone means to blame them for their actions as the source of what has gone wrong, and shame them for who they are
a. Jesus was constantly insulted by the religious people of his day
b. at one point the Pharisees even called him the Son of Satan
c. reproach simply means to be insulted to your face
2. this is the kind of persecution that is prevalent in America today
a. we see it in the purging of Christianity from the government and from government property
b. we see it in the muzzling of public officials, employees, and appointees
c. we see it in the anti-Christian bias in Universities and higher education
d. we see it in the public attacks on Christians and Christian values by the Michael Moore crowd
e. we see it in state endorsement of non-Christian values like homosexual marriages and the legalization of sodomy
f. we see it in the media and Hollywood’s open war against Christianity
3. they see us as the problem!
4. conservative Christians are fast becoming the politically expedient group to reproach in our society
a. make disparaging remarks about Homosexuals, or Blacks, or Hispanics, or the Poor, or the Handicapped, or Muslims, or Buddhists, or Hindus, and you’re likely to be ostracized from polite society, you’ll be told that you have a psychological malady, and you’ll be strongly encouraged to receive sensitivity training
b. but, make a disparaging remark about theologically Orthodox Evangelical Christians and the ladies of The View will applaud an hoot
1) 50 years ago, if you really wanted to offend your neighbors, you lived an immoral and a degenerate life
2) today, if you really want to offend your neighbors, live a truly holy life!
5. Many Christians Will Be Persecuted by Reproach
II. THE FAITHFUL WILL BE PERSECUTED
ILLUS. Today there is an escalating hostility toward orthodox Christianity throughout Western culture. In 2010, Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, speaking before a gathering of priests about the dangers of the secularization of our society, said, "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history." While it’s too soon to know whether the Cardinal’s words are prophetic, he was completely accurate about the growing secularization of American culture.
"Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." (2 Timothy 3:12,
1. I read that verse, and I think back to what my preacher said, and I think to myself,
“Ya know, I’ve never had a red-hot poker shoved into my eye, so I must not really be living for Jesus.”
2. perhaps the difficulty lies in the word persecution
a. maybe if we used words like opposition, or challenged, or hindered we would have a better understanding of what Jesus is talking about
b. many of you, most likely, have indeed been hindered or challenged are opposed because of your faith
3. whenever you remained faithful to your convictions, resistance in some way, follows
A. REMAINING FAITHFUL DOCTRINALLY WILL BRING RESISTANCE
1. actually believe the bible; actually take God at His word, and you’ll meet resistance
ILLUS. Just a few days ago there was a report out of Katy, Texas of a 7th grader who was given an “F” grade on a paper, because she chose to say God’s existence was a “fact.” She and other Middle School students were given a test by their teacher asking whether God was a “Fact, Opinion, or a Myth.” If they answered anything other than God was a myth, they were given a failing grade.
ILLUS. Dare believe that marriage is to be a union between only one man and one woman and you’ll be branded an intolerant homophobe.
B. REMAINING FAITHFUL ETHICALLY WILL BRING RESISTANCE
1. when you are honest because that is your Christian conviction, you may be ridiculed
C. REMAINING FAITHFUL MORALLY WILL BRING RESISTANCE
1. some things are immoral, have always been immoral, and will always be immoral
a. immorality needs to be opposed and when you do oppose it, don’t be surprised when you experience opposition
ILLUS. Tell your class mates the you want to remain a virgin until your wedding night, and most of your friends will look at you like you’ve just fallen off the turnip truck.
ILLUS. Tell your friends that, no, you don’t want to snort a line of cocaine, or take a ‘toke’ and you might be called weird or even a coward. That’s OK, be weird – and most definitely be afraid.
ILLUS. Wear a “Jesus Loves You” pin at Disney World during their Gay Pride Day and see what happens!
III. THE FAITHFUL NEED TO BE FAITHFUL, AND WHEN NECESSARY, TO BARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR FAITHFULNESS
ILLUS. John Wesley was riding on his horse to a meeting of fellow Methodists when it dawned on him he had not been persecuted for three days. "Maybe I've sinned or been disobedient," he thought to himself. He got off his horse, got on knees, and began to pray right there by the side of the road. A man on other side of road recognized the evangelist—whom he disliked. He bent over, picked up a large rock, and heaved it at Wesley. It bounced off the road, just missing pious evangelist. Wesley leaped to his feet and shouted, "Thanks be to God! Everything's all right. I still have God's presence with me." And with that he got back on his horse and continued his journey.
“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me." (Matthew 5:10-11, NASB95)
1. anytime you or I serve Jesus Christ with honesty, integrity, and loyalty, we may find ourselves opposed, or challenged, or hindered — even persecuted
2. but please notice that we are blessed only one we are persecuted because of righteousness
a. being persecuted because you’re an obnoxious jerk or the schoolyard bully doesn’t count
3. how do we respond when persecution arrives on our doorstep?
a. remember the four “L”s
1. lament is a word that means to express grief to feel a sense of brokenheartedness
a. the Apostle Paul tells believers in Rom. 12:15 to mourn with those who mourn
b. we must never forget the plight of brothers and sisters in Christ who are suffering great hardship for bearing the name of Christ
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. 33 Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. 34 You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. 35 So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (Hebrews 10:32–35, NIV)
1) in v. 33 Paul reminds his readers that many of them were exposed to insult and persecution, but there were other times when they stood side by side with those who were so treated
2) he writes that there were times when his readers stood by those who were in prison suffering vicariously with them
2. when we see brothers and sisters facing persecution we need to offer up a lament to God
a. in the bible, a lament is actually a form of prayer where the believer brings to God’s attention their plight and their pain and the pain and plight of others
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.” (Hebrews 13:3, NIV)
3. Offer up a Prayer of Lament for Your Fellow Believers Around the World Who Are Suffering in Jesus’ Name
“But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.” (Luke 6:35, NIV)
1. as much as we cringe at this one, it’s so clear in the bible I don’t think the trickiest theologian could scoot around it
a. we are to love our enemies
1) when they speak negatively of us, we’re to speak kindly of them
2) when they steal your stapler, you’re to give them our roll of tape as well
2. there are those in the world, maybe as close as the cubicle next to you at work or the locker at school, who oppose you and may even try to hurt for the sole reason that you love Jesus
a. Jesus says, "Yes, love them. If they kill you, love them. If they take away your father, love them. If they destroy your home, love them.”
b. love Jesus so much, that it’s his love in you that spills out into the lives of your enemies
3. Love Your Enemies
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” (Matthew 5:43–45, NIV)
1. Jesus tells us to lift up our persecutors in prayer because this is what Christian do
a. prayer for your enemies is one of the deepest forms of love, because it means that you have to really want that something good happen to them
1) it may be for their conversion
2) it may be for their repentance
3) it may be that they would be awakened to the enmity in their hearts
4) it may be that they will be stopped in their downward spiral of sin, even if it takes disease or calamity to do it
b. but the prayer Jesus has in mind here is always for their good
2. Lift up Your Enemies in Prayer
“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11-12, NASB95)
1. persecution, and harassment, and, opposition to the faith, all make the Christian long for The Kingdom
a. some might ask, “How can we rejoice and be glad” when our belongings are being confiscated, our bodies being perhaps marred, our very lives being threatened?
b. because this world is not your home, you're just passing through
1) you no longer belong to the world, though you remain in the world and so the things of th is world no longer hold a priority for us
ILLUS. Like Christian passing through Vanity Fair, we avert our eyes and say, “No thank you!”
2. Long for God and the Things of God More than the Things of this World
Never forget that God is on His throne. He will punish evil. And He will bless all of His faithful servants and reward those who have been persecuted for his names sake. "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing." (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NASB95)