“If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.” (John 15:18–19 NLT)
You gotta love Jesus… he just tells it like it is. Follow me and the world will hate you. It’s the kind of rhetoric that has people standing in lines waiting to sign up (sarcasm alert!).
But it does raise two important questions:
- Why did the world hate Jesus so much?
- Why should I follow Jesus if it means I’ll be hated?
Jesus didn’t simply annoy people; he incited a hatred so powerful that people killed him. What caused such an extreme reaction?
I think it’s because Jesus attempted to dethrone the most powerful ruler of all.
I’m not talking about the Roman empire: Jesus admits that his Kingdom is not of this world (see John 18:36). And Pilate (the Roman Governor) even admits that he can find no fault with Jesus (see Luke 23:4).
And I’m not talking about the Sanhedrin either (the ancient Jewish supreme council… though still subject to Roman authority). They had to manufacture false witness to trump up a charge worthy of Roman attention, yet still bungled the attempt (see Mark 14:55-59).
No, the ruler Jesus was trying to unseat was much more dangerous… devious… and persistent. Jesus was trying to unseat “Self” as the ruler in people’s lives.
And people hated him enough to kill him.
And it just gets better… Jesus tells us that if we follow him, the world will hate us too. Depending on where you’re reading this in the world today, they may hate you enough to kill you. I pray especially for you!
So, it begs the question…
Is it worth being hated like Jesus?
This is a “gut-check” question for Jesus followers. I think it’s also the reason why we’re so good at being “Christians” and so bad about sharing Christ with others. Think about it…
When I (as in “me”) have Christ, I enjoy the three P’s” Peace, Purpose, and Perpetuity. I have happiness… bliss.
So why would I risk all that by sharing Christ… and being hated?
I think it’s because we’re willing to settle for…
The “Near Side of Peace.”
I value simplicity, as long as it’s the right kind of simplicity. What’s the “right kind” of simplicity?
“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
What Holmes was saying supports the KISS principle (Keep It Simple Stupid), but only after working through the complexity of an issue. And what does all this have to do with being hated and knowing peace?
It means we have some soul-searching to do… some deep prayer and contemplation… some serious Bible Study… and some serious commitment issues to work through before we’ll know that it is all worth it to follow Jesus.
We need to get to…
The “Far Side of Peace.”
The far side of peace will not only strengthen us, it will actually impact the world around us. Consider this comparison of near side/far side:
Near Side of Peace
Far Side of Peace
|Matthew 13:5-6||Matthew 13:8|
|Superficial peace (Jeremiah 6:13-14)||Lasting, unshakable peace (John 14:27)|
|Human self-interest in charge (chaos, without concern)||God’s in charge (order, with love)|
|A ticking bomb, waiting to explode||A defused bomb with fuse removed|
|Luke 19:42||John 16:33|
In the far side of peace, we can weather any storm. We can share our faith and not only face the haters, but love them as well. We can help others work their way from superficial faith (near side) to unshakable faith (far side). (The Holy Spirit carries that load, we are just facilitators).
We can move from avoidance of conflict to resolution of conflict… and restoration.
How do we get there? One step at a time… over time… by the power of The Holy Spirit, we will grow into the far side of peace. Don’t give up!
In the words of one who knew what it was to be hated:
“Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Cor 13:11 NLT).
Where do you struggle to find the far side of peace? What have you found most helpful in getting to the far side of peace?