Why did Jesus say that the world would hate Christians? (John 15) What would cause Him to declare that the world would not like our message, or even us? There is so much peace, service, humility, kindness and grace filled within Jesus’s teachings, why would the world reject it? I believe that the explanation is simple: His message includes telling the world (and us apart from Christ) that every single human being is guilty.
People love being told a lot of things about themselves, that we are smart, funny, talented, we will even go so far as to appreciate being told that we are not perfect, the world affirms that no one is, so we are in good company! However, one thing people do not like to hear is that they are guilty. Have you ever seen the gavel fall from a judge as he declares the accused guilty and then seen that man rejoice? I know I haven’t. I know that I don’t like to hear that I’m guilty either, even when I know that I am!
Sometimes when we read Jesus’s words we completely miss the major declarations that He makes. For instance we love in the Sermon on the Mount when He says “how much more will your Heavenly Father give what is good to those who ask Him!” but we so easily gloss over the first part of that statement where He says “If you then being evil know how to give good gifts to your children”. Did you catch that? Jesus just called every one of His listeners evil! (Matt 7:11)
Or take for instance Luke 13:1-5. Some people had reported to Jesus the death of certain Galileans, the context seems to imply that they were questioning Him as to why this happened. Perhaps they were asking: “Jesus, where was God during this loss of life?” or more likely “Jesus, surely these men had sinned and thus suffered such a fate, correct?” Jesus’s reply is startling. He says “Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” Did you catch that? Jesus again grouped all of his listeners together as equal sinners, all condemned to death, unless they repent. He said to every single person around Him: You. Are. Guilty. And not just guilty, but guilty to the point of death. Have you ever tried to say that to a group of people in front of you? Odds are that you will get some heated response back and might lose a friend while you’re at it.
Jesus knows what is in the heart of man. This is why He knew that the world would hate the true Christian message. He said that a servant is not greater than his master and told His disciples that they would also be hated for their message. He had every expectation that His disciples would not be afraid to tell the world that they were guilty. It is not until we understand our guilt and rebellion before a Holy God that we can possibly understand the cross.
Christians need to show love to the world, we need to be humble servants to the lost. We need to let our speech always be with grace so that we should know how to respond to each person. (Col. 4:6) Yet I believe many of us, myself included have compromised our message more often than not. We are more eager to make sure that we are liked or seen as the “cool Christian”, or worried about offending someone than we are to declare the whole counsel of God that the world does not want to hear, but so desperately needs to hear. The very message that can save their souls, we so rarely proclaim in full.
We need to stop being so ashamed of the Gospel and the Gospel includes the world’s supreme guilt before a perfectly Holy God! Do some of our closest non-Christian friends even have the slightest clue that we think that they are a guilty sinner condemned to death? If they don’t, we have failed them and our King. We have not represented Him as He represented Himself. We don’t have to shove the Bible down everyone’s throat nor remind them every time we see them that we think the whole world is guilty and deserves eternal separation from God, but have they ever even heard us say it once? How will they know their need for Jesus when they’ve never been told why they need Him! Think about it (though I have not studied this passage greatly and would be happy to take correction if I am taking it out of context), Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would convict the world concerning sin (John 16:8) and we know that conviction of sin is the first step to then repenting and believing in Christ, how could a man repent if he had no conviction? But what is the God ordained way that the Holy Spirit convicts the world of their sin? Through the verbal proclamation of the Gospel by believers! (Romans 10)
For Christ’s sake (I like this phrase and use it reverently), for the world’s sake, for the lost’s sake, for sake of the Gospel and the glory of God may we more boldly proclaim the entire truth of the Gospel and “not be ashamed of the Gospel, for it is power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16)