“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin,[c] but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
Hate Crimes Against Minority
Recently I was reading a book about privilege. The book outlined many factors that would show privilege. One of them was ‘Christian’. I agreed but disagreed all at the same time. The majority culture is loosely Christian. The country took biblical truths and applied them to the nation. The biblical values of Jews and Christians pervade the culture. If we compare the values of majority culture in China with that of the West, we can see the remnants of Christian influence, even as it fades back into the morass of competing worldviews. However, in a very real sense the West is not Christian. There are some Christian values, but the people are hedonistic, self-serving and capitalist/consumerist. This doesn’t look as insidious in practice as the terms would suggest. We make decisions for the maximum pleasure. If possible we just want everyone to be happy and in so doing we make ourselves happy. We listen to other people spill their guts out, but we feel happy hearing them and they praise us for being patient and virtuous. We want the freedom to indulge ourselves and spoil ourselves with all the latest gadgets and goods.
However, those who follow Jesus realise something that the majority culture is not comfortable with. He calls us to die. We need to die to seeking pleasure, serving self, and collecting possessions. We are called to put everything, even family, second to knowing Jesus and living with and for him. We read the Bible and seek to be changed by it rather than reading it and seeking to make it conform to our own agendas. As we move away from our selfish desires we find we become good, but to be good is not to be nice. It might be nice for a doctor to tell a patient that they will live forever, but the painful truth of their condition is the foundation for good treatment. We all have to realise that we are loved unconditionally, in ways that Jesus has just outlined in the opening of this chapter, then we step out and deal with our own condition and reach out to people with remedies and cures. However, today’s Christians themselves want to be accepted and so their voices are muted. Those who do speak up and love the world enough to speak its condition are hated for their hate speech. They are silenced and shamed in the West. They are killed elsewhere.
May God grant us the courage to go beyond being nice to being good. May we find courage to address the evil in our own flesh and then see clearly how others can be rescued with us. Let us accept the humiliation and alienation with the confidence of knowing that we are eternally loved and accepted by Jesus.
Jesus, we have been warned that authentic Christian living will lead to opposition. Our lives and our words will be a challenge to those around us. Help us to turn to you and to wrap our arms around you in times of alienation and pain.
- What has Jesus just talked about before this passage?
- What is soon to follow?
- What pain will come for the disciples?
- How are people alienated and ridiculed for their faith in the west?
- How can the church better serve Jesus in persecution?