As The World Turns
(Read John 15:1 - 16:4)
Love and hate; hate and love. If you are living in the same world I am, while trying to follow Jesus and His word, you will certainly be aware of a bigger divide happening between Jesus followers and world followers. What was once profane has become holy, and what was once holy has become profane. What do I mean? Think about it! The things of God like the Bible and obedience to what it teaches has become offensive, even hate literature in our modern culture. While worshipping other gods of self, sex and pleasure has become the religion of our day. There used to be a clear list of rights and wrongs. Now it is as if the columns have been reversed, with what used to be “wrong” now in the “right” column, and what used to be “right” now in the “wrong” column. I know that I am not the only one seeing this. It is most prevalent in the church, which was once a beacon of righteousness, now a herald for unrighteousness. If you don’t see it, ask God to open your eyes to the truth. Much of modern-day Christendom has embraced the world and the sins therein and has become like the five troubled and sin-filled churches we read about in revelation 2 & 3. Lord have mercy!
Jesus’s words in John 15 clearly teach a separation between the world and the follower of Jesus, “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” (John 15:19). Such a remarkable line! If the world loves you, you are not preaching the true Gospel of Jesus Christ, because it is an offensive message. In a nutshell, God loves you so much that He doesn’t want you to die and go to hell because of your sins, so He sends Jesus to die in your place, to free you from the penalty of sin, and eternal judgment. In return for faith in Christ, He offers pardon, forgiveness, wholeness, freedom, reconciliation and eternal life. What is so offensive about that, you ask. For a person to believe in the gospel, he or she must first admit they are a sinner! Why would one do that when the world continues to declare that there is really no sin anymore, and much of the church is even afraid to use the word, because they want to keep the world in the church, and not offend. Friends, wake up! Where is the church declaring the truth of the word of God! Come out of her my people!
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (15:18) As representatives of Jesus Christ, even as ambassadors of His kingdom and message, preaching truth in a fallen, sinful world will always bring a negative reaction. As the world turns from the Christian faith to embrace every idolatry under the sun, know that the Gospel will become more and more offensive, and preaching it will become more and more hazardous to your health and well-being. The animosity is growing towards those who hold to biblical morality and truth. Remember, if they hate and reject you, it is because they hate and reject Jesus, and ultimately Father God (15:23). We are living in a society today that does not want a God who tells them what to do with their lives and how to live them. If there is any god in the conversation, it is one that they have fabricated in their own minds – a god who simply loves with no consequences for sinful behavior. That is not the God of the Bible!
So, this is what the follower of Jesus is up against – competing gods and a compromising church. When society has reached this level of rebellion and rejection, persecution is right around the corner. Sure, we can talk about localized revivals in Asbury, Kentucky. It’s wonderful that God has convicted a group of Christian students to get right with Him – may we all be convicted in this way! That is the work of Holy Spirit to correct His church, and get her back on track (John 16; Rev. 2&3). But revivals come and go, and ultimately come because the church is dying or dead and needs CPR.
We don’t live from revival to revival like a cat with nine lives who keeps escaping death. We live and abide in Christ 24/7! Now here is the crux of the matter for followers of Jesus, and what John 15 teaches:
First, abide or remain in Jesus (15:1-10). Let us be those followers of Jesus who are obedient to our King, and bear much fruit because we are in close, intimate communion with Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Let us obey His word and keep His commandments and testify to the world that righteousness is better than sin, and only doable with the presence of God in us – let us testify to the reality of our salvation and rescue from the world and all its pleasures. Let us love Jesus more than the world (1John 2:1-29)
Secondly, let us really love the family of God (John 15:9-17). In a world that hates Christians, the key is to belong to a community of believers that really love each other. By this the world will know that we belong to Jesus (John 13:34-35). Loving Christ means sacrifice and obedience, even laying down our lives for one another (15:13). Obedience to Christ brings us from being a slave to a son, even a friend (15:14). This passage (15:9-17) requires us to be in deep communion with a body of true believers, not just a Sunday pew warmer. The importance of being part of a healthy church that loves Jesus and His word cannot be emphasized enough. One just need look at the war in Ukraine and how people are gathering together, and helping each other out in order to persevere and survive the onslaught of the enemy. As animosity and persecution increases towards us, we need each other to survive the inevitable difficulties ahead.
Lastly, know that being hated by the world (and even the church) is part of being a follower of Jesus. Let us get to a place where we do not need the approval of people for validation – we live to please only one Master. We are counter-cultural, not fish swimming with the ever-changing currents of our age. Choose to stand for truth and righteousness. Open your mouth when led to do so by Holy Spirit and declare the truth to a dying world. Let us be heralders of the Good News of Jesus and His kingdom. This passage ought to challenge us to even go against “the church” if it has turned from its Master: “They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me” (John 16:3-4). We are living in an age where this verse has come to fruition. Maybe they are not killing us yet, but the “church” is clobbering true followers of Jesus for declaring truth, as it has embraced the ideologies of the world.
Friends, you might be saying, “Mike, lighten up!” I cannot continue to remain silent as the great deception and apostasy intensifies, and I watch people fall away into eternal damnation. It is time for the church to rise up and be who she is supposed to be – those who seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness. No more compromising!
“All this I have told you so that you will not fall away” (John 16:1)
"Advancing the Kingdom of God by releasing Spirit-filled followers to serve Jesus in freedom and joy."