Read John 15:18-27.
He had given them comfort, had promised his Spirit, encouraged them to love each other and bear fruit. Yet, before he said a final prayer for his disciples, Jesus needed to warn them of what was to come. Life in the Vine, in Christ, is not going to be easy.
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…If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.
This had to have been hard to hear. Not only were they losing their teacher, their Lord, but now people were going to turn on them.
Why can’t everyone just get along? I like people to like me.
It’s a nice thought, but just doesn’t work out that way. Of course, if you want people to like you, it only takes one thing — turn your back on Christ and keep up with the Joneses. Just live like the rest of the world, and you are guaranteed to have a trouble-free life. Well, while it might be trouble-free in this life; the life to come is another matter, but who’s thinking about the future?
We need to, because this life passes oh, so quickly. It’s like a vapor. So, if you are content with knowing that living an “everybody-loves-me” life today will lead to an eternity in torment, then go ahead, take the plunge.
I think I’ll stick to short-term struggle for long-term paradise, rather than short-term paradise, for long-term hell.
After all, it’s not me they’re mad at, it’s Jesus. I’m not going to take it personally. All I need for encouragement to face the tough days is a look back at the great cloud of witnesses that has gone before, starting with Jesus.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
Then I look at what others endured:
There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. (Hebrews 11:35-38)
The world was not worthy of them, and Jesus warned us of what was to come, of what we would have to face.
So that you will not go astray.
Lord, Jesus, your path is not one of ease and pleasure, but one that requires a daily surrender to your will and reliance on your Spirit. Though the world hate me, I will follow you, for “if God is for us, who can be against us?” May I be worthy of the call, to the glory of your Name. Help me to remain in you, to love others as you loved me, and to bear much fruit. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.