17 October 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: John 15:18-21 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. (John 15:18-21 NLT)
“The World.” “The world” and “worldly” and “world system” are terms commonly used by Christians. Always used negatively. Always referring to something that is outside the boundaries of what really matters. Always referring to less than “Godly”. References to “the world” in a negative way are legitimate in terms of our faith and our focus as followers of Jesus. But let’s never forget that “God so loved the world!”
The Bible’s negative references to “the world” don’t refer to the earth. God entrusted a beautiful planet to us and commissioned us to steward it and its resources. To use and not abuse. To develop and not destroy. To care for in such a way that each generation passes on to the next a home improved.
When Jesus said, “The world’s going to hate you, because you’re thinking and talking and behaving like me, and the world hates that!”, he was indeed talking about the world system. It’s the world system of values, the world system of attitudes and behaviors, the world system of selfishness, hatred, hard-heartedness, and greed. And “the world” not only includes atheists and secularists, it includes toxic religious systems that keep people in bondage and away from God.
The leaders of the religious system felt threatened by Jesus’ other-worldly message of loving all and of including outsiders. Then eventually the selfish secular world and the selfish religious world got together and killed him. But in killing the Lamb of God, “the world” opened the way for the resurrection of the Son of God and the release of the Holy Spirit into the hearts and lives of Jesus’ followers then and now. And behold, the Kingdom of God is at hand!
Father, May we think and talk and act enough like Jesus that “the world” notices! And may we be faithful when that begins to cost us, in ways big and small! Amen!