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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hated for the Sake of Christ

John 15:18-19 (ESV) 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.

The world doesn't know that it hates Jesus. Mention the name of Jesus and lots of people will nod their heads and claim some affiliation with something that He said. They think that He is all about love with no thought of judgement. They think that His rampage in the Temple (when He threw out the money changers) was an attack on the establishment of the rich and religious. They may even think that they love Jesus but they have no idea how Jesus defined love.

Jesus said that those who love Him keep His commandments. Those who love Him will not pick and choose which ones to obey. They will keep them all because of their love for Him.

Those who love Him, thus, must be followers. (I just read that there is a facebook "not a fan" page. It differentiates between being a fan and a follower of Jesus. I think I will join it.) Followers don't merely tip their hats to Jesus. They become as radical as He is.

Jesus didn't set out to be hated. They hate Him for who He is. He represents a completely different means of salvation. This salvation is not based on the accomplishments of the adherents. It is based on the sacrifice of the Leader. This salvation demands commitment to this leader rather than rituals which are detached from who the person is. In other words, this salvation demands a change from the inside out rather than actions which hope to change the person from the outside in.

Jesus followers will be as strange as He is because they follow Him as their living Lord. These followers will know what He says and do what He says. They will not participate in the things which violate His commandments. The refusal to participate in the actions of the world will be seen by the world as a judgment against it.

A few years ago I refused to go to a certain movie because of its rating. I did not believe that my Lord wanted me to be there or to see that movie. I didn't condemn those who wanted to see it. I merely refused to go to the movie with them. I chose to watch a different movie. The group joined me but one of the group complained loudly of how he was unable to see the movie that he wanted to see.

I don't to say that this person hated me. I think that is too strong a term for an incident over a movie. But I do know that he hated  my convictions which prevented him from doing what he wanted. I can see very easily how the world looks on these convictions. They see it as seeking to prevent them from doing what they would like. They see it as judgment against what they like.

Yet, it surprises us to find that the world is working so hard to eliminate our faith. They remove the presence of our faith wherever they find it. And no one seems to be figuring it out. There is no movement to eliminate any other faith. It is quite alright to invite another religion to speak at a school or civic function with impunity. But watch what happens when a true follower of Christ speaks. The world jumps to its feet and screams, "Intolerance!" Can we not see that this is a hatred for who we are and how the "salt" of a Christian is put on the wound of the world's sins?

Maybe that is why so many people who call themselves Christians are actually followers. They want to go along with the world so that they aren't hated.

I'll admit that I don't like being hated. I, like my Lord, do not seek it. I know that this is what I should expect if I am to be a true follower of Jesus.

Is Jesus your Lord or do you just like some of the things He said?


Anthony Chia said...

Salt and light are powerful stuff. Putting salt on wound surely give pains, at least, initially. One does NOT like that, the pain, but afterwards, disinfective and even healing qualities of salt work on the wound would bring great benefit to the person. From ancient of times, salt has been known and used in healing treatments of all sorts of ailments. That is just the "medicinal" aspect of salt; on top of that, salt adds flavour to otherwise bland food; it is a preservative, it is also essential, biologically, for our body to function properly; and of course, salt had once been used as token of exchange for benefits (goods and services) - yes, as money. Parabolically, we, believers, are asked to be as salt to the world. Similarly, beneficial things can be said of light, and we are asked to be the light of the world. Putting salt on the wound hurts, casting light on the dark deeds of men, also bring shame, pain and a whole lot of negative emotions people do not like.

Yet, we have to keep the germs off, if a wound is to heal, or it might get gangrenous (or gangrened); we have to let the light in or the people will continue to stumble in the darkness.

Why did Jesus become as salt and light of the world, during his ministry time on earth? Because of love.

Jesus loves God (the Father). How do we know? Ps Prentis said it, we know because He obeyed God's commands for Him for His life on earth; His ministry comprised nothing but doing the will of God, obeying every commands and instructions of the Father. Jesus said, "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me (John 6:38). “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work (John 4:34)

Last Sunday, I learnt this: “To love is to be prepared to be hurt as well, and most likely there will be hurt in the course of that loving.” Did Jesus NOT get hurt or was hurting for a time, in loving God? No, no, I am NOT referring to the pains he suffered at the hand of men; that I will come to it, in a moment. Jesus was hurting in the Garden of Gethsemane before His going to the Cross. That night His soul was overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, because of His love for God, and because of that love, He had to obey God's indication to Him that He had to die crucified. This was recorded for us:

"36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37 He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39 Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”" (Matt 26:36-39)

God (the Father) loves Man or mankind, even after the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Even after the Fall, God continued to love and care for men in their earthly lives (and we can see that even in the First family, of Adam and Eve) despite men would live for a period of time and die physically. Jesus shared the same love and care of God, and He demonstrated the same love and care for us, men, when He was placed on earth to lead an earthly life. Jesus said this: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does." (John 5:19).

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Anthony Chia said...

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So, you see there are 2 sets of love: Jesus' love for God (the Father) and Jesus' love for us. I have talked about the sorrowfulness Jesus experienced in pursuit of His love for God (the Father), but we of course, are fully aware that Jesus' pursuit of His love for men, also brought Him times of great pain and sorrow; men humiliated Him, inflicted injuries to His body, caused great pains (the whipping and pressing of thorny crown into His forehead, for example), and crucified Him. He bore it all for the 2 sets of love, love for God and love for men. But love is NOT pain and hurts all the time; otherwise, God would NOT exhort us to love. I will NOT say more in this regard, but Jesus’ life of godly contentment and glorification tell much.

The source of love is God. God loved us first, the Bible said. Even Jesus was first loved by God. We read this in John 17:24b – “that they {Jesus’ followers} may behold my {Jesus’} glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.” Was God NOT hurt, ever, in the pursuit of His love? It hurt Him (the Father God) when He had to send His one and only begotten Son to earth to live as a man and to die a cruel death as a man on the Cross. Because He loved His Son, Jesus, it pained Him to see His Son’s suffering, even when it was temporal. Are we NOT also every now and then, hurt God when we disobeyed Him, and sinned and grieved His Spirit whom He put to indwell us? To love is to be vulnerable to hurt; there can NOT be true love without being vulnerable. Jesus loved and still loves because God first loved Him, and Jesus’ fountain of love came from God; in other words, Jesus’ love flow from the God Himself; Jesus loves God (the Father) with the very love that God loved Him. It is to be same for us, Bible said we love (God and our neighbours) because God first loved us (1 John 4:19); we love with the love of God. Jesus loves God (the Father), and us, with the love of God, likewise, we love God and fellow men, with the love of God. It is the love of God that enables us to love Him back, and to love our fellow men. Our fountains of love must get filled from the Fount (of Love) of God in order that we can continue to love (but I am NOT dwelling, here, into how we can get our fountains filled). What I am trying to point out is that our loving of our neighbours has NOTHING TO DO with the RESPONSE of the recipients (our neighbours); the recipients and their responses are NOT INPUT in our love; the Fount of God provides the needed love that we love with!

Jesus’ love for men, none of it came from men (men inputted nothing into it), He, Jesus, loved men with the love of God (for God loved Him, Jesus, first). Men did NOT love Jesus first, it was Jesus who loved men first, by dying for them, when they were yet sinners. In other words, Jesus’ act of love, to die for you and I, was independent of your response and my response; He performed the act of love, out of the love of God, the Father. Some men, like Ps Prentis and the many Jesus-loving Christians, love Him back, but many men do NOT. Well, the many men who do NOT love Him back, using the opposite word, they hated Jesus, or if you prefer a more neutral word, they rejected Him. When you love, and you get rejected, it hurts or NOT? It hurts – To love is to be vulnerable to being hurt. But we still love, modeling after Jesus, our Lord; why? Because to love another does NOT depend on that other, but is to allow God’s love to flow through us. “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” (1 John 4:16). Amen.

At the end of the day, it is a choice – the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of the world are different, you love one and hate the other; you cannot love both! And so, people either share your same love, and they will love you too, or they will hate you, because they are of the other.