Word from Scotland: The world, the Church Of Jesus Christ are very different communities
In these closing verses of John’s Gospel, Chapter 15, we saw how Jesus Christ moved on from the importance of Christian disciples loving one another, to speak about hate!
That is one of the reasons why we are commanded to love one another, because the world will hate us – or reject us. This note of persecution becomes more prominent.
Bearing fruit for Jesus Christ inevitably involves suffering.
Those disciples were soon going to know what it meant to serve Jesus Christ the Messiah and King and Lord, in a hostile world. The disciple of Jesus Christ is living in an alien world. We have been born again, and we belong to the Kingdom of God, although living in this present world to serve and shine and witness and teach and win others for Christ.
The world will give us up, and we will face hostility in all kinds of ways, but we always need to remember that the opposition is to the living Christ within the believer and not simply and solely to the believer. It is a continuation of the persecution Jesus Christ Himself received and faced.
This is why we should never look to the world for applause or approval.
If the world did not approve of Jesus and His message and ministry – if the world did not applaud the ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, do you think it will appreciate you and me?
The world will be glad that Christians are around at certain times and doing certain things, although they may not understand why, but we should be wary of applause and approval and popularity from certain quarters.
The world and the Church of Jesus Christ are two very different communities. They can never really mix. There can never be any compromise on either side. We will be drawn to different things. We will be committed to different things and have different aims and goals and values and standards – and we will end up in two different destinations. This is why there is such a clash, and this is why it is good to deal with those things right at the very beginning of our Christian life, or as early on as possible.
We can never really enjoy the things of the world and the things of Christ.
We must never profess to belong to Jesus Christ – and flirt with sin.
Verse 20 – This is why they were persecuted and persecuted means ‘pursued’ or ‘thrashed’ or ‘threshed’. This is strong language and many are unable to take such teaching, but remember these words come from the lips of Jesus Christ, and remember where Jesus is going as He speaks to His disciples.
This is why we need a strong fellowship around us. We need people’s prayers and advice and encouragement and love and ministry – all they have to give and share. You need all I have to give you and I need all you have to give me – and that is what it has to be throughout the whole of Christian life – and these men were soon to discover that. Fellowship was going to become very important to them.
When we become disciples of Jesus and committed to Christ, we don’t have to look for persecution and normally we don’t have to wait long for it to appear in some form. Some people will not like you any more, and the world can be very cruel to someone who is different. In one sense the Christian is a social misfit. Peter writes about that. We do not fit in, and yet our work and ministry is to remain in the world and seek to get alongside men and women – to witness to them – to show them the Love and Light of Jesus Christ.
Verse 22 – the world reacts to what Jesus said, and once a man has heard Jesus’ words he has no excuse. Your very presence can reveal all sorts of things and you can make rebellious people very uncomfortable.
A godly man at work may have some horrible things done to him and yet, at the same time there is a respect – especially when the life of the Christian is consistent. People know when the living God is in a man’s heart, and they respond and react in various ways.
Revelation brings responsibility. Man cannot hide sin, no matter how carefully he tries to cover it. It will ultimately be exposed and may even explode in certain circumstances. All that happened throughout the book of Acts.
Jesus wants His disciples to know all this before it all happens. Jesus even goes on to say that when people are upset and disturbed by the real thing, they will try and put you out – while they continue with their services – while they continue to sing Psalms and hymns, and say prayers!
In the light of all this, you would almost think that the cause of Christ was doomed to failure from the very start. But no. The Holy Spirit will come, to make you a fortress and to make you brave in Christian service. The Holy Spirit testifies about Jesus Christ and points to Jesus Christ, and we are called likewise, to testify and bear witness.
This is part and work and ministry of the Holy Spirit – to make absolutely sure that the work and ministry of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is not destroyed by opposition, criticism, and persecution. Now, let that encourage you wherever God has called you and placed you, and go on serving faithfully and remain in the vine – in the local fellowship of believers in Jesus Christ.