August 23, 2020

A Hated People

John 15:18-25

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

—  John 15:18

This may be one of Jesus’ hardest teachings—especially if you tend to be a people pleaser. Jesus wants us to understand that his followers will sometimes be at odds with the values of the world. As a result, there will be times when we pay a relational price for following him.

But will we be hated?

Disliked? Probably. Misunder­stood? Sure. But hated? That sounds pretty extreme.

Yet Jesus chooses strong language here for a reason. Putting God first will create friction—it’s a threat to people and systems that have a vested interest in their own ambitions and ways of doing things.

Jesus invited people into the kingdom of God, and this resulted in his death on a cross. Why? Because his teachings represented a threat to the religious leadership. Following Jesus meant having less power, status, and attention, so their response was to get rid of the competition and protect their own interests (see John 11:48).

Since that is how Jesus was treated, should we be surprised to encounter hardship in our own lives because of our faith in him? No.

Yet, in spite of resistance in this world, God remains faithful to his people. Through the Spirit, we can be empowered and refreshed to continue the work God calls us to do. And in community we can find the support to keep following Jesus, no matter what it costs us.

Lord, give me the courage to stay faithful even when others criticize or condemn me for my faith in you. Amen.

About the author — A.J. Gretz

Anthony Joseph (A.J.) Gretz is a pastor in Grandville, Michigan. He has also served churches in Ohio and in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He and his wife, Anna, have three children.

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