Most non-believers in our culture say they respect and admire Jesus. They think of him like they think of Gandhi, you know, a peaceful sort of guy who was only out to “spread the love.” And how can you not respect and admire that? However, I have a hunch they wouldn’t be quite as admiring if they really knew him. The Lord Himself leads me to this conclusion:
“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” – Jesus, John 7:7 (ESV)
In the context, he’s talking to his (half) brothers, Mary and Joseph’s other sons, who were testing him and challenging him to “show yourself to the world.” (John 7:4). At this point in time, they didn’t believe in him, not yet anyway. However, in verse 7 (above), Jesus said something that ought to challenge many believers today. He told his brothers that the world could not hate them. And why? Well, that’s obvious, right? The world doesn’t hate its own, and they were of the world. Jesus, on the other hand, was not of the world. He was the ultimate countercultural man.
The logic here is hard to refute: if you tell someone that what they are doing is wrong, they will usually have one of two responses. First, they might humble themselves and repent. “Thanks so much for helping me see the light.” Or second, to one degree or another, they will be offended. And, if you tell them often enough that they are doing wrong, like a pebble in their shoe, you will rub them the wrong way and they will begin to hate you.
Such was the case with our Lord. He testified again and again that the world was in the wrong, and the hatred came around. It always does. The only reason that he is not hated in the same way today is that our culture has remade him in their own image. They love Jesus today only because they think he is just like them.
He is not, of course…not at all.
How about you? Does the world hate you? Or, at the least, has anyone told you lately (or ever) that you are “out to lunch”? It’s a reasonable test, isn’t it? And really, the test is this: are you speaking the truth (in love!) to the world? Are you, in the appropriate way, testifying that its deeds are evil? Or would you be one of those to whom Jesus would say, “The world cannot hate you”?
After all, you’re simply telling them what they want to hear. And in so doing…you are just like them.
For tomorrow, Wednesday, October 14: John 8