Friday, July 10, 2020

John 15 - Part 2

Read John 15

What do we do as the body of Christ?

We proclaim good news.  We are on a mission to connect the disconnected.  We strive to follow the teachings of our Lord.  Jesus said that he followed the teachings of his Father.  We are to follow his teachings. We love one another with everything we have.

That’s the foremost command by which we are called to live our lives.

God will bless you for staying connected to Jesus every day and in everything you do.  We are blessed to live as his servant and as his friend.  We are blessed.

OBTW—we will also be hated because Jesus is our Lord and Master and Friend.  The world will hate us.

The world won’t hate you if you are a friend of the world.  But you have chosen to remain faithful to Christ Jesus. He chose you to be his out of the world, but we choose to remain in him to abide in him and his teachings.
We are his and the world will hate you for it. 

Jesus said that no servant is greater than his master.  The world hated Jesus and it will hate you because of him.  Expect nothing less.

The world that hates you has no excuse because Jesus came and was rejected by the same world that persecutes you.  When the world rejected Jesus, they rejected his Father in heaven as well. 

Understand that people may hate you for no reason but that does not excuse them.  They are without excuse but they will hate you anyway.  There is no logic or reason to be applied.  Hate is not bound to abide by rational thought.

There is hate in this world and some of it will be sent your way.  There need be no logical reason.  Hate does not abide in logic but in the depravity of the human heart.

Perhaps, we are sheltered somewhat because of where we live, but you have a target on your head because you follow Jesus.  Living in these parts where many proclaim Jesus as Lord makes it a little easier, but we are not exempt from the world’s hatred.

Most of the time in our ministry, we deal with apathy and ambivalence when it comes to sharing the love of God.  So many are content in the world and its ways.

But some will hate you because you follow Christ Jesus.  You have done nothing but to offer abundant and eternal life in our Lord, but some will hate you for it.

Some will hate you for this.

What is our response?

We go into this hateful world with the message of God’s love that we know in Christ Jesus.  We go equipped with the Holy Spirit.  The hatred of the world does not change our mission.

The world’s hatred does not change our mission.

Sometimes, ok often, I am accused of having some screwball thinking.  I’m usually convicted of the accusations on all counts, but here is one more.

I don’t want to get out of this life without being hated by the world at least a few or a few dozen or a few hundred times.  I don’t want to go to my grave without receiving significant hate from the world.

I want to be known by my love and as a disciple of Christ Jesus.  I want to be known so well as one who follows him that the world hates me for it.

I don’t want the world to look at me and say, “well maybe he follows Jesus.”  I want them to know and the affirmation that the world knows that I don’t belong to it but do belong to Christ Jesus will be its hatred towards me.

If you haven’t noticed the battle of good and evil that has been fought in the spiritual realm for so long has manifested itself into our physical world. 

It seems like everyone has a cause with which they want you or the church to jump onboard.  They want to incorporate the church into their cause.

They want to subordinate Jesus to their cause.

My message today to the world is to bring on your hate, because Jesus will be subordinated to no person or no cause.  Jesus is Lord and we are to follow him as his disciples.

Now, are there problems in the world that we who follow Jesus should apply our gifts and talents?  Of course, there are.  As far as problems in the world that you use our help, it’s a target rich environment.  The Spirit that lives within you will tell you when and where you are called to help in such efforts.

We are always called to share the truth of how much God loves us.  We are called to proclaim, “Repent and believe the good news.”  We are called to be known by our love.

We are not called to blend in with the world so the world doesn’t hate us. 

In the first part of this chapter, Jesus talked about the vine and the branches.  We must stay connected to the true vine which is Jesus.  We can only produce fruit through our connections with our Lord.  We will only bring glory to God by letting his light shine through us.

And the world will hate us and I am just fine with that. 

It wasn’t too long ago as we made our way through James that we noted to be a friend of the world is to be an enemy of God.

Expect the challenges ahead of us to be subtle at first.  Going along with the world won’t seem too bad in some cases.  Jesus will understand.  A little compromise never hurt anyone. What’s the big deal?

It’s the frog in boiling water example that I have used for 40 years and that others used long before that.  I think as long as there have been frogs and boiling water, someone must have used this analogy.

 If you throw a frog into a pot of boiling water, it will jump out.  It does not pause to do a cost-benefit analysis.  It does not consider various courses of action.  That sucker is out of there.

If you put another frog—you are not catching that first frog again—into a pot of room temperature water and turn up the temperature one degree every couple of minutes, it doesn’t take long before the frog is relaxed, then too weak to jump out.  A short time later, you have boiled frog.

The water has been room temperature for most of our lives, but over the past couple of decades, it’s been turned up a few degrees. 

Did you notice?

There was a time when you could say praise the Lord and you wouldn’t get a look from the pit of hell that came from someone offended that you were allowed to say that out loud.  Back in the day, someone might respond with amen or pass the ammunition, but you knew you were in good company.

Back in the day, you could teach that all life is precious without it starting an argument and you being declared ignorant and a hater. 

Back in the day, a prayer was always appropriate for a group, a gathering, or just you alone on a park bench.  That was back in the day.

The temperature has gone up a few degrees since then.  Some of you may be too young to know anything but the present disdain for God and his people.

The typical response is to say that the world is going to hell in a handbasket—a metaphor that I never fully understood but get the general gist.

There is a movie—a documentary—that I am sure no one here has watched.  It’s called To the Shores of Guadalcanal.  There’s some combat footage but mostly it’s interviews with crusty old Marines.

In this one interview, this very old Marine recounted a certain hill in the jungle that the Marines fought for and took.  It was a costly battle.  Then the Japanese took it back.  Seven times the Marines took the hill.  Seven times the Japanese took it back.

Seven times we took it.  Seven times they ran us off.

This old Leatherneck had only one more comment.  We came back eight.

Expect the world to hate you.  Expect to be opposed.  Expect considerable resistance as believers in an unbelieving world.  Do the work that the Lord gave you anyway.

Take the hill.  Do his work in spite of whomever and whatever is against you.

The world will hate you.  Love anyway.

The world will hate you.  Proclaim freedom from sin and death anyway.

The world will hate you.  Never deny your Lord.  Be faithful to him and abide in his commands.

The world will hate you.  You are in good company.  It hated the prophets.  It hated Jesus.  It hates you.  You are in good company.

I have seen much of the world and am blessed because of it.  Some were unique.  Some were picturesque.   Some were surely the armpit of the earth, but it didn’t matter because when I was in those places, I was in good company.

I was in good company.  When the world hates you, you are in good company.

Does God love you?  Yes, you know he does.

Is God faithful?  To all generations!

Is God forgiving of us?  You know that he is faithful and just to forgive.
Doesn’t he know that we have trouble in this world?  Yes, he told us that we would and to take courage that he had overcome the world.

Does he know that the world hates us?  Indeed, he does.  He warned us that the world would hate us because of him. 

So, here’s one of those closings where some of you might be trying to discern a basic dichotomy.  Should we send Tom to a psychiatrist or to a team of them?

What?  Why?

Because, I am telling to be glad when the world hates you.  Rejoice when the world thinks you a stranger.  Put a smile on your face when someone hates you because they can tell you follow Jesus.

When the world hates you because it can tell you follow Jesus, know that you are in good company.

You are in good company.


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