Updated: Oct 2, 2022
Is the world antithetical to the Gospel or is the Gospel antithetical to the world?
In John 15 Jesus said: "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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.”
IN A WORLD OF REJECTION WE ARE CALLED TO LOVE
Truth be told, we live in a world of extremes that create conflict within us. Jesus said, if we were of the world, the world would love us, but because we are not, the world hates us. How do we resolve this conflict?
Don't be afraid of the hate in this world. If you read the entirety of John 15, you will find that Jesus sandwiched the world's position between His position on love and His promise of a Helper. (Read the whole chapter it is awesome!). What do we do with this? We learn how Jesus loved and we lean on the Helper- His Holy Spirit- to love through us (a fruit of His Spirit.)
Write down Paul's wisdom on Love in 1 Corinthians 13. The enemy loves to condemn us and tell us that we are unable to fulfill and therefore just throw out the whole teaching. Don't fall for his lies. Instead- remember that Jesus is Love and ask Him to help you embody each virtue. Pray Colossians 3:12-14 every day and ask for help in walking in His love.
Stand on truth. I love how Paul taught what love is and what it is not. That line: love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth is huge. This one line warrants a whole teaching of its own. But know that to truly understand it requires that we understand what is evil and what is true. JP Moreland said it like this: "Evil is a lack of goodness. It is goodness spoiled. You can have good without evil, but you cannot have evil without good." And the natural progression is that a lack of goodness will lead us into physical evil which leads us to death and judgement. To rejoice in truth is to know the truth- the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal LIFE in Jesus. This truth will set us free. This is the reason Jesus came- He loved us to bring life.
Love like Jesus.
Some examples of how He loved:
When Jesus loved the Samaritan woman, He “saw her”, “listened to her” and then “challenged her.” She left joyful, why? In her own words, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?”
When Jesus loved the woman caught in the act of adultery, He “didn’t bow” to the trap of condemnation laid out for Him- instead He pointed those laying the trap to see within themselves and then He “gave grace to the woman with a challenge.”
When Jesus loved Zacchaeus, He “didn’t blend in” with culture to cancel a hated tax collector- instead He publicly met him where he was and asked to eat at his house. He then “shared the promised blessing” to Zacchaeus.
When Jesus loved the world, He “didn’t call down” His angels to destroy those opposing Him. He looked on them with love and said Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. He then “saved” by opening the door to a restored relationship with Heavenly Father and defeating the barrier of sin and death that blinds from the freedom our Father has for us- both here and eternally.
The conflict within may bully us to take sides but what if in this antithesis we learn to embrace the whole. To embrace is not to enable, follow, ignore or remain silent. To embrace is to boldly and unashamedly stand on truth and love as we say come and see. Jesus was not limited by culture and He was not intimidated to bow to culture. And He has invited us to the same- to stand with Him, love our neighbor, and love our enemy- even those who hate us.
Let's follow Jesus and LOVE ANYWAY.