You Can Listen to the Full Sermon Here:-
“Get Used To Being Hated”
Living with teenagers can be heaps of fun.
Especially when they go through that wonderful time of life called “puberty”.
You just never know what is going to happen from one moment to the next.
You can be quietly sitting in front of the tv.
Your teenager comes in and announces that they are going to visit Jo.
This is not a friend you are familiar with so you naturally ask, “Who is Jo?”
WHY CAN’T YOU TRUST ME.
YOU’RE ALWAYS PICKING ON MY FRIENDS.
NOTHING I DO IS EVER GOOD ENOUGH.
I HATE YOU!
All you wanted to know is if they would need a lift.
Teenagers who hate - it is an expected part of parenting - and it usually doesn’t take long for hate to become love once again.
But it can still hurt … because “hate” is a strong word.
When hate occurs it can sometimes be difficult to deal with.
When a marriage of 30 years becomes, “I hate you” - that is difficult.
When a business partnership ends with “I hate you” - it causes hurt.
When acts of generosity are responded to with “I hate you” - we might wonder why we cared.
When we hear the words they tear our heart.
Often we will do all we can to avoid “hate”.
We don’t want people to hate us … do we.
Sometimes we will have to make a decision and we will even say to others, “please don’t hate me.”
Which makes our reading today another hard saying of Jesus.
Hate! Seven times it comes up in these verses.
Jesus is making it very clear that this will be the response of the world to Christians.
And those to whom John was first writing know what John is talking about.
I’m going to read a record made by Tacitus, he was a first century author who wrote a history of Rome. This is what he what he wrote about events that happened in the days of Emperor Nero … Nero was the Emperor from 54-68AD.
It involves the aftermath of a huge fire which burnt down most of Rome.
(Having begun the rebuilding of Rome) means were sought for appeasing deity. Ritual banquets and all-night vigils were celebrated by women in the married state. But neither human help, nor imperial benevolence, nor all the modes of appeasing Heaven, could stifle scandal or dispel the belief that the fire had taken place by order.
(There were many who believed Nero lit the fire deliberately so that he could rebuild Rome to be a more luxurious city).
Therefore, to scotch the rumour, Nero substituted as culprits, and punished with the utmost refinements of cruelty, a class of men, loathed for their vices, whom the crowd styled Christians. Christus, the founder of the name, had undergone the death penalty in the reign of Tiberius, by sentence of the procurator Pontius Pilatus, and the pernicious superstition was checked for a moment, only to break out once more, not merely in Judaea, the home of the disease, but in the capital itself, where all things horrible or shameful in the world collect and find a vogue.
First, then, the confessed members of the sect were arrested; next, on their disclosures, vast numbers were convicted, not so much on the count of arson as for hatred of the human race. And derision accompanied their end: they were covered with wild beasts' skins and torn to death by dogs; or they were fastened on crosses, and, when daylight failed were burned to serve as lamps by night.
Nero had offered his Gardens for the spectacle, and gave an exhibition in his Circus, mixing with the crowd in the habit of a charioteer, or mounted on his car. Hence, in spite of a guilt which had earned the most exemplary punishment, there arose a sentiment of pity, due to the impression that they were being sacrificed not for the welfare of the state but to the ferocity of a single man.
Tacitus Annals 15:44
This description is terrible as it seems the Christians were being used as scapegoats.
Even if Nero didn’t start the fire we know for sure that Christians would not have done so.
But did you notice the language used to describe the Christians.
They are loathed for their vices.
The loving and kind acts of the Christians has been turned around to be a sign of evil.
Christians would not sacrifice to the Roman and Greek “gods” - that was a vice.
Christians would not call Caesar “Lord” - that was a vice.
Christians would not participate in the pagan rituals and festivals - that was a vice.
They had pernicious superstition … pernicious means evil.
They only worshipped one God - that is evil.
They didn’t worship in temples or sacred places, but in homes - that is evil.
The eat the body and drink the blood of Jesus - that is evil.
They are a disease.
Everywhere you go they are around … even in Rome where all of societies diseases can be found.
They talk to you about their God and try to get you to turn your back on all religious festivals and celebrations … they are a disease which wants to infect everything.
No matter what is done to stop them they keep on rising up, regrouping and spreading … just like a disease.
They were guilty and deserved punishment.
Not because anyone believed they started the fires.
But just because the citizens hated what the Christians stood for.
No reason was given, but no support was offered.
Even when there was some pity from the Roman citizens because they knew Nero was using the Christians to stop the rumour … there was still derision mockery and ridicule thrown to the Christians while they were being torn by dogs, crucified and used as human torches.
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.
Being associated with Jesus means being associated with the enemy of the world.
Sometimes it is so hard for us to understand this.
All we want to do is see people come to faith.
We know the depth of the eternal anguish and punishment that awaits those who do not confess Jesus Christ as Lord.
The love of Jesus which he has for the world … a love so deep that He was willing to come to this world and give His life for it … is the same love which motivates us and drives us to bring the Gospel, share the word, encourage faith and call for commitment.
That is how we see it. But that is not how the world sees it.
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.
Being associated with Jesus means declaring to the world that you don’t belong here.
When the world looks at Christians that is what they see. They see people who have a different status.
And they are right … we have a different status.
Jesus came to us in his grace and his love and, in the middle of all the evil, chaos and sin in our lives He showed us love and mercy and forgiveness.
But not just showing. He acted. He took the initiative. “I have chosen you out of the world”.
What a wonderful truth and such an unexpected gift.
For when our eyes are open to the truth we see that we didn’t deserve to be chosen. We weren’t worthy of the choice - nor were we specifically an outstanding candidate.
But we were chosen. Pulled out of the world and shown that we no longer belong to the old path and the old way.
It is such a blessing for us.
But for those who are in the world this is very confronting.
Because they look at us and immediately realise that we are no longer part of the group.
When the world views us as “not belonging” it changes their relationship with us.
Much energy has gone into having chaplains available in schools. And there is a lot of money which is given to this by the community to help support the chaplains.
Yes the government is supportive.
But that is what the world hates. Many people want to see this program gone … and the funding cut … and for no chaplains to have access.
This is despite the fact that two independent studies have clearly demonstrated the value, need and worth of the program.
But because Christians are involved there is hate.
Christians are often on the front line talking about moral and social issues.
We do so knowing that we all struggle with these issues, and we certainly have not got the perfect record.
But we know the impact of family breakdown and we are concerned for the future.
And we are concerned about the ramifications of abortion and euthanasia.
And we have seen the benefits of choosing positive life choices and living out a moral code.
Not because we want to impose … but because we see that life is easier and smoother and more blessed when such choices are made.
But because Christians are involved there is hate.
And this outcome is always going to be the case. Because the same motive is driving both groups.
The Christian faith is driven by love.
The world is also driven by love
Each group loves … more specifically each group loves their own.
As such each group is protective of their own.
That is because, ultimately, the love of each group is mutually exclusive. Not that we want to exclude others - but the love of Christ is in a completely different realm to the love of the world.
So when we come to the world and tell them about the love of Jesus … no matter how honourable we are in our motivation … all the world sees is us trying to break their love for each other.
They are trying to protect each other.
They are trying to support each other.
And all they see is us … as outsiders and as those who don’t belong … trying to break them up, trying to quell their love.
And because they see this happening they respond.
21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.
Until they know the Father, or have sense of who the Father might be, it will always be the same. It is exactly how the Old Testament predicted.
25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
This is a quote from Psalm 69:4 … let’s read it in context.
1 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.
3 I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.
4 Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.
5 You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you.
6 Lord, the Lord Almighty, may those who hope in you not be disgraced because of me; God of Israel
Jesus takes these words and makes them His own. To remind us of the status quo.
Those who stand firm in the Lord should not expect to be treated better then how the Lord was treated.
20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ That is Jesus quoting John 13:16 … in the context of washing the feet of the disciples.
If Jesus had to wash the feet of others, those who were close to him, then as servants of the master we should expect to be treated with less dignity … and hate will be the outcome.
By this point I think we can say, “Yes we get what Jesus is saying … we are going to be hated.” But what makes this verse qualify as a hard saying of Jesus.
These verses are hard because of their practical implications.
If authorities decide that preaching the Gospel in open spaces and public forums is no longer allowed and we can be prosecuted for doing so … that is not an attack on our freedom of speech - it is merely the status quo for being associated with Jesus.
If it gets to the point where religious education in public schools is banned … and anyone who promotes Christianity in a public school is fined … that is not the agenda of secularist being given authority - it is merely the status quo for being associated with Jesus.
If we lose our job because our Christian convictions prevent us from following the direction of our boss and so he sacked us … that is not a breach of the fairwork act - it is merely the status quo for being associated with Jesus.
If Christians schools lose their funding because they will not employ non-Christian teachers … that is not a case for the anti-discrimination commission - it is merely the status quo for being associated with Jesus.
Do you the implications?
I know we should stand for our rights and privileges and equal treatment.
But let’s understand the big issue.
The status quo … the ordinary way … for the world to treat Christians is to hate.
Hate without reason … merely the reason that we are Christians.
That is how it was in the first century … and Christianity not only survived, but grew at an incredible rate.
For the sake of Christ and the Kingdom are we willing to endure the same hate?
That’s a hard question … isn’t it.