Lenten Devotional

March 21, 2020

All Day

Category: Lenten Devotional

Making Enemies by Following Jesus?

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world.

That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin.

As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’ ” (John 15:18-25).

Today's reading focuses on the consequences of leading a life as a follower of Jesus. We find answers to the question of why we Christians are often excluded, ignored or even encounter hate. Do we deserve this? Why can we not be loved; be seen as good, or even model members of a peaceful society? Why do we irritate non-Christians? Why are we seen as outsiders? 

Jesus, as the only 100% godly person who ever lived, irritated non-believers with his perfect and fair behavior ─ so much so that it cost him his life. That he came back from death, upset that crowd even more. At first, his closest followers and his friends, looked for refuge behind closed doors. It took Jesus’ physical return for them to understand it was not a dream but reality; that Jesus had conquered death; that he had given his life for all the guilt of the human race; that he had liberated his followers from their sins. 

While centuries ago, the consequences of choosing to lead a Christian life were known to be costly, very costly, or even life-threatening, in today's world they are more subtle. In Jesus’ time the Pharisees could not stand to be irritated by the believers, many of whom lost their lives. Or in Zurich at the time of Zwingli, how were they treated when they asked for a fairer sharing of the wealth? What are the consequences of being a believer today? 

Have you ever felt excluded, overlooked or simply hated because it was known you were a follower of Christ; because you did not participate in cheering at cheap jokes; you did not agree with unfairness at your work place; you stood up for someone weaker; you dared to challenge your boss; or you supported an otherwise pushed aside family member or friend? Or did you ever feel that by your behavior others seemed to avoid you, and that the group seemed to get bigger as there was whispering behind your back? 

In today's world the bashing of Christians has not disappeared, it has only become different. He would not be Jesus had he not offered us godly support in all life's situations: pray in all honesty and you will receive. 

Prayer:Dear Lord help me understand how to digest what I feel that hurts, hinders,  and saddens me. I want to keep up with you — with joy! Thank you for your example and for caring for me.