Sometimes...okay, most of the time it is really hard to live in this world. It can seem as if everybody and everything is against you.
Well, if you belong to God - and I hate to add to anyone's personal paranoia - but they are and it is.
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.." John 15:18
Do you ever wonder why it is so hard to be friends with certain people? People that when you are with them you feel as if you must meet some unspoken or possibly loudly-spoken agenda? That if you don't think or act or respond or do whatever they are doing you might upset them and then they won't like you?
Am I speaking to anybody??
I'm writing about this because I keep noticing people, my friends, the church and bless-it-all myself continue to try to be in the world and of the world at the same time and IT IS NOT WORKING.
Could it be that we have possibly forgotten who we are? Have we forgotten that we are meant to be distinct? Have we forgotten that we will be at odds because this world is not our home? This is not a new problem. In fact, we have been dealing with our selective amnesia since time began. Thankfully Jesus can shine truth if you, like me, suffer from like-me-itis.
It is not popular to split people into groups. It is not socially conscious to say "us" and "them" but we must understand that there is a difference. Jesus knew. That's why he told the disciples these words,
"If you belonged to this 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. This is why the world hates you." John 15:19
That is a really hard statement. In a time and place where we feel as if we are doing wrong if we can't just all get along, Jesus says very plainly that the world will hate us. And that they will hate us for no other reason than they,
"Do not know the One who sent me." John 15:21
Jesus is letting the disciples know that, hey, there is a difference between you and them. The difference is you have chosen to follow the Father and they have not. You know God. They do not.
You know what people who do not know the Father want people who do know the Father to do? Act just like them. In fact they get angry when we do not. So angry that they killed Jesus. So angry that they killed the disciples. So angry that the same thing happens today just usually in form of guilt, pressure and exclusion.
People who do not know the Father can only allow someone who does know him in their life for a brief period before a decision must be made. Why? Because you are a physical reminder of a spiritual deficit. How do we know this? Because Jesus tells us that,
"If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin.
Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin." John 15:22
The Bible tells us in Romans 1:20 that creation screams (my wording) of the existence of God so that mankind is without excuse. Jesus was saying something similar here. If you have spent any amount of time with these people then they have seen evidence of the Father and a decision must be made. If they have not started following after God, then that is their decision.
This is not the case for all, which is why we need to be diligent to continue sharing the truth of Jesus, but if this is speaking to you at all you know exactly what this means - they have heard the truth and they have rejected it - and now they would like you to be exactly like them because they hate everything you represent.
They may never say it in those words but that is the truth.
What I want you (and me) to know is that desiring to have people like you is an illusion the enemy uses. To what end? So you will be more interested in pleasing man than God. It's real simple, but incredibly deceptive. It is a slow slip, one compromise at a time till you no longer can differentiate yourself from this world.
God's Word pierces me so many times and these words are some of the sharpest to my soul. In John 12 we hear of a crowd who witnessed the power of God through Jesus performing miracles. It tells us that even after they saw Jesus do these things, they would still not believe.
These are the "them." Blind refusal in the presence of great glory.
But, that isn't what gets me. It's the next verse that says,
Yet at the same time many even among leaders believed in him... but they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue;
for they loved praise from men more than praise from God. John 12:42-43
This is the "us." The us that didn't want to be distinct from the people around them because they were more concerned with being liked than being holy.
I wish I could tell you following after God is easy. It is not. It sometimes hurts. It causes us to stand up and be distinct with the very real possibility that we may not be liked and also lose people we care about. But what we fail to realize is that if we do not separate ourselves, we will lose them to something even greater - their chance to see that there is someone worth losing everything for.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:24