Jesus is in his last days on the planet. He’s giving final instructions to his disciples.
Following Jesus can be an unpopular and downright dangerous thing. Here’s what 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. 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. Remember what I told you: “A servant is not greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: “They hated me without reason.”
Why on earth would anyone hate Jesus? Jesus himself answers that question: Because he told us the truth about our sin.
Once you meet Jesus, you have a choice to make. Either you’re for him or you’re against him. Either you believe or you don’t. Either you stick with your sinful self-indulgent me-first greedy way of life or you turn from your sin and walk with him in his God-first Spirit-filled way of self-sacrificial love.
The world not only hated Jesus, it persecuted him. We should expect the same. But it’s not all doom and gloom. If we’re truly filled with the Spirit, it’s a joy-filled honor and privilege to suffer for — and with — Jesus.
As we discussed here, Jesus said:
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. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
And here’s how Jesus’ brother James kicked off his book in the Bible:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Here are two questions we’ve asked before that are worth repeating:
Are you being persecuted? If not, why not? Don’t you want to be blessed?
Here are my answers:
No. Because too often I fear people more than God and don’t stand up for truth and righteousness. Yes.
Jesus had some highly motivational words for people like me:
I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. (Luke 12:4-5)
Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. (John 16:22)
Doing the right thing can lead to a direct clash with the world. Just ask Jesus. But never ever ever fear. We’re never ever ever alone.
Ask the Holy Spirit to help you stand up for truth and righteousness. Starting now.
(Image credit: Shutterstock.com / nito)