John 7:7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil.
Jesus’ disciples were coming up with a game-plan for him. They wanted him to come to Jerusalem and make a big splash. It wasn’t what Jesus had in mind. He knew what his responsibility was in the world — to be faithful to his Father. The world did not like what he had to say. He wasn’t trying to become a public figure, but he needed to speak the truth. For this, the world hated him. He could not condone the behavior of those in the world and their anger and resentment of him was very real. He knew where all of this would lead and that was, to his death.
Jesus’ comments to the disciples here are interesting. The world doesn’t hate them because they may still just have a bit of an attraction to what goes on in the world. The world is unhappy with Jesus because people don’t like anyone telling them that what they are doing may not be right.
In the 5th century Cyril, the religious leader of Alexander wrote:
For the world loves sin. The Lord is a corrector of those who do not act rightly. And correction must often be attained by reproof. For the mere calling of a sin a sin is already a rebuke to those who love that sin, and the reproof of iniquity already lays blame on those who have that iniquity. And so, when necessity calls for the teacher to administer reproof, and the mode of cure requires it to happen in this way, and the one being instructed by such a rebuke against his will is exceedingly angry, then the ills of hatred must surely arise. Therefore, the Savior says that he is hated by the world in that it cannot yet bear exhortation with rebuke when it really needs to do so in order to profit from it. For the mind that is in bondage to evil pleasures gets quite angry with the advice that would persuade it to shape up. And the Savior says these things, not altogether saying that he will not go to Jerusalem or refusing to give the reproofs that may be profitable to the sinners, but minded to do this too and everything else at the proper time. (Commentary on John)
Jesus is not a lover of the things of this world and his counter-cultural life is offensive to those around him. He is hated by the world.
Christianity has experienced a period of time in much of the world in which it has been accepted and been a part of the very fiber of life. It depends on where you live and you also see that Christianity has also been hated by the world. But look very closely at this scripture — Jesus didn’t hate the world. God so loved the world that he sent his son who was reaching out in holy love to draw the world back into a relationship with the Father. The root of the hate was from the world against the Lord.
The word “hate” is thrown around a great deal these days and often against Christians. If there is to be any “hate” may it come from the world against Christians who are trying to love with the holy love of God. Even though Jesus knew that the world hated him, he never gave up. He was not unkind. He went into their midst and continued preaching, teaching and healing. He loved them and did everything he could to bring them into a relationship with God.
This is a challenge to those who are Christ-followers. We are called to be like Christ in the world, loving, preaching, teaching and healing…and even though that may sound good to us, don’t always expect people to like it or us. But never give up. Reach out in holy love and may the word hate not be used to describe the actions of God’s people.
Lord, please fill me with your holy love and passion to reach out to the world around me. Amen.
Thank you to Nazarene Publishing House and Keri Mitchell for helping to create and publish Reflecting the Image. This is not a devotional book, but rather a collection of thoughts and stories which lead us in the direction of reflecting Christ. Click on the image to take you to the NPH bookstore.The book is also available in Kindle format on Amazon.com.