The world will hate you
The world will hate you according to the Gospel of John. This uncomfortable truth is found in John 15:18-21.
18 “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. (Jn. 15:18-21 ESV)
Jesus’ words in verse 18 are not meant to convey the idea that the world may not hate you as a Christian. The idea is something like this, “If the world hates you (and it does), know that it has hated me before it hated you.” Christ understands that the world first hated him, and he understands that if the world hated him and persecuted the master (v.20), presumably a position of honor and respect, then the servants will be persecuted as well.
He tells his disciples that if they were of the world the world would have no problem with them. The world readily loves its own. It celebrates what mirrors itself. The problem, Christ says, is that his disciples are not of the world because he chose them out of the world therefore the world hates them. The hatred of the world stems from the disciples not looking like the world. They once belonged to the world, but Christ has removed them from the world and placed them in his family. As a result, the disciples will no longer mirror the world. They will no longer look like the world. Their values will be different from the world which means their lives will be different from the world. Like Christ, whose life was a commentary on the sin and unrighteousness of the world, the disciples’ lives will be a commentary on the lives of those around them.
We also need to note that while the world’s hatred of the disciples stems from them not looking like the world, it is rooted in something much deeper. Christ says it is because of his name and the fact that they do not know God. The world hates Christ and the world hates Christians because it does not know God. If it knew God, it would love Christ and his followers.
So, what do we take away from these words of Christ?
1) Christians should expect to be hated by the world.
2) We must ask ourselves “Do I do anything that would make the world think I belong to it?” “Do I do anything that makes clear to the world that I do not belong to it?” In other words, do I live in such a way that the world clearly understands that I am different from it? If so, it will hate you.
3) Be encouraged, the world hated Christ first, but he tells us later in John 16:33 that he has overcome the world.
By His Grace Alone,