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Summary: Message discussing persecution.

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“If the World Hates You…”

Various Scriptures

December 6, 2009

NOTE: THE ME/WE/GOD/YOU/WE FORMAT IS FROM ANDY STANLEYS’ BOOK, "COMMUNICATING FOR A CHANGE."

Me: Today we’re going to talk about that wonderful Christmas topic called “persecution.”

November 8th was the yearly International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church.

I was gone that day, and I wanted to get some other things taken care of before tackling this today.

Now usually this time of year I’m mid-way through a 4-week series about Christmas, but obviously that’s not happening this year.

So the first Sunday of December, we’re going to talk about persecution and the persecuted church around the world.

Now listen – I’m not a fan of persecution. I don’t like the idea of persecution and if it were up to me, I’d never have to mess with it. And I would rather not even talk about it. Really.

I don’t talk about this because I think, “Hey, I’ve been waiting for months to talk about this! I can’t wait!”

The whole idea of persecution is something I’d rather not deal with.

We: My guess is that everyone else here today is the same way. You’d rather not hear about it, and especially in church in December when we should be talking about mangers and wise men and big stars in the sky and angels singing to shepherd.

And I don’t imagine anyone here will try to get a group together than goes out looking to get beat up for Jesus.

So why are we talking about this? Because we need to. Scripture commands us to remember those who are being persecuted for His sake, as we’ll see later.

And we need to talk about it because Jesus talked about it. We’re going to look at one of those passages today.

God: During the last few hours with His disciples on the night He was betrayed, He took some time to talk to them about some real serious stuff, and some of that was the persecution they were going to face because they identified with Him.

I want to cover four facts from this passage that we need to keep in mind as we contemplate the fact that persecution is real, it happens around the world, and it can happen right here.

John 15:18-23 (pp. 764-765)

1. Persecution is part of our identity with Christ.

Verses 18-19 –

18 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 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.

Jesus says, “Here it is: they hate me, they’ll hate you. It’s that simple. Get used to it.”

Persecution is mentioned at least 25 times in the New Testament.

Jesus mentions it here and other places. Persecution is part of the package for those who call Jesus their Lord and Savior.

Let me point out just a couple things in relation to that, okay?

> Your life in Christ “invites” persecution.

2 Tim. 3:12 –

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.

How’s that for motivation to live for Jesus?

Living for Jesus in a way that shows people you live Him above what the world says invites persecution.

Why is that? Lots of reasons, but the main one is that they see holiness in you that they can’t have on their own, and it’s convicting.

I think that’s especially true in this culture.

They see that you want to please God instead of yourself or the crowd. It makes them angry and even scared.

So they feel the need to make it rough on you.

It’s not fun, but it’s true. And many times you can still use those opportunities to share the love of Christ with them.

> How you handle persecution is a measure of the depth of your relationship with Jesus.

In Matthew 13 Jesus tells the parable of the sower.

The sower, or farmer, scatters seed, and he encounters four types of ground that the seed falls on.

Jesus says that the seed is the Word of God, and the soil represents four different types of hearts or people.

And in verses 20-21 He says this –

20 “The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.”

If you call yourself a Christian, but you continually run away from identifying with Him, then you are that rocky soil.

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