“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.”-John 15:19
Have you ever felt hated for something that you believed or been rejected because you shared one of your viewpoints? Rejection, it seems, is a part of the universal condition after the fall. We hate those who think differently than we do.
What world was Jesus speaking of here? I think it is commonly assumed that Jesus was referring to the self-centered and hedonistic Roman Empire. If we imagine that Jesus was warning the disciples about Rome, our understanding is that he was saying they would be hated for confronting immorality.
Yet the disciples were also a part of the Jewish world, which was strongly influenced by the Pharisees. In truth, the hatred would come not only from the secular culture, but also from their own religious leaders. Indeed, hatred often seems more intense from religious than non-religious people. Christ-followers who tell of the truth about the extravagance of Jesus’s grace may find themselves squarely in the crosshairs of both legalists and hedonists.
Jesus, following you and seeking to live out your message of love is counter-cultural. You have called me to be a rebel, standing against hatred by loving with reckless abandon. Amen.