“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

In places like North America, where Christianity has been widely accepted for centuries, indeed, where freedom of religion was a primary motivation for many of the early settlers, these words of Jesus may come as a shock. We don’t like to be hated by anyone– we like to be accepted.Jesus Himself came into a world dominated by religion, and He suffered unrelenting persecution from the religious leaders of His day. And, in the upper room that night, He told His followers that, because they were His servants, they too would be persecuted.

The root of this hatred, He explained, was that He had come to show up the sin of the world, their need of a Savior. By the mighty works that He did, works that no other could have done, He showed forth His Father to a world that professed to worship Him. And, since they could not abide His overwhelming righteousness, goodness, compassion, and His absolute truth, they hated Him. He saw them for what they were and fearlessly exposed them, but they refused to take the way out He offered them, instead sinking deeper into hatred. And, hating Jesus, they hated His Father as well; a hatred without cause.

As we follow Jesus in this world, particularly if we serve Him in bringing others to know Jesus, we must be prepared for the hatred of the world. But Jesus, Whose love and compassion and righteousness remained victorious over all the hatred of  the world and the devil, has promised never to leave us. Remember His words, that, if we keep His commandments, we will remain in His Love. His love is a perfectly safe haven in the midst of the swirling hatred of the world.

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