Being Liked; February 26, 2019


John 15:18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”

In the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus doesn’t beat around the bush because He knows He doesn’t have time for that; this is his last chance to teach them before His crucifixion. This one short verse is a gut punch for anyone who is all upset because they aren’t universally liked and admired. In America at least, being a Christian has generally been seen as admirable, but not so much any more. The media are quick to accuse anyone who holds to Biblical values of being a “bigot,” a “homophobe,” and “intolerant” in any of a number of ways. We’ve got to remember that anyone who refuses to follow Jesus, even when they know about Him, is actively following the liar, whether they realize it or not. As such, we should hardly expect them to make true statements! One reason “identity politics” are all the rage is not just that the devil loves division (though he does) but that lumping people into groups makes it much easier to dismiss them, to despise them. That’s what the devil wants us to do, so that should tell us what we should do instead! I think it was Stalin who said, “Five people being killed is a tragedy. Five million people being killed is a statistic.” That’s why he went so big with his killing. We are to look at people individually and treat them as individuals for whom Christ died. When people get to know us individually they may be surprised at some of the things about our lifestyle, but they will very likely be attracted by the Christ they see in us. History has many examples of persecuted Christians who brought their jailers to salvation, just as Paul did. (Acts 16) We are not to complain about being disliked or even hated, but rather love in return, (Matthew 5:43-48)

I feel like I have very few enemies, but I’m not sure if that is good or bad! Some people have expressed that they feel I live by “impossibly high standards,” but I try to be honest with them about my failings. Some people, particularly Christians, have resented it when I have expressed God’s truth to them. All I’m doing is quoting God! I am not to offend needlessly, but neither am I to come across as excusing things that are clearly in violation of what God has said. In our upcoming trip we will be seeing at least two people in openly homosexual lifestyles. I don’t have the wisdom called for! However, God can use even me to call those people back to Himself. I must not forget that Jesus didn’t hesitate to associate with prostitutes, even though He never “patronized” them. I am to express God’s love and righteousness, not feeling superior but allowing my heart to be broken, so that the Holy Spirit may bring these brothers to repentance.

Father, it can be hard to walk in Your purity without the world seeing me as a “goody two shoes.” Help me not fear that, but abide in Christ fully, in all circumstances, so that Christ may shine through me for the salvation of those who see me, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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