Not The Anticipated Outcome
Once again, I am impacted by the words of Jesus, this time as He instructs His disciples about being hated. His choice of words on the verge of His arrest startle me. I hadn’t noticed how conflicting they were. John 15:17-18 AMP reads,
17 This [is what] I command you: that you love and unselfishly seek the best for one another. 18 “If the world hates you [and it does], know that it has hated Me before it hated you.
Up until a few days ago, I had not noticed how these two opposite emotions were right next to each other in the Bible and not at all the logical response expected from those who are commanded to love and selflessly seek the best for others. Am I the only one who finds this shocking?!
At first glance, this grieves me to the core. Breaks my heart actually. What a discouraging “fruit” from loving others unselfishly! I am saddened that the genuine act of loving others cannot be received more beneficially by those intended to be blessed by it. But then my next thought is of Jesus and how this certainly describes His life.Jesus teaches us how to be Christlike even as we are hated for no reason. Click To Tweet
Not The Anticipated Savior
Christ was not exactly the Savior the people expected. Even though they had plenty of Scripture prophesying His nature and purpose, many of them had conjured up their own idea of what a “messiah” should look like. Because they were oppressed, poor and in physical need, they longed for a redeemer who would free them from foreign government rule, provide for their material and physical needs, and generally reward them lavishly for being Jewish.
Jesus, out of perfect love, came to meet much more pressing matters than that. Whereas the Jews tended to think He would come for the outward needs of man, He actually came to meet the inward needs. His purpose was to free them once and for all from their sinful condition. Christ did this by conquering sin and death on the cross when He died for all of our sins and was resurrected three days later.
In essence, He came to free them from their own sinful rule, not the dominion of other foreign powers. Their reward was more lavish than merely financial profit or physical wellness. It was an eternal gain- a spiritual inheritance with life everlasting in heaven. Christ came to make them more than subjects under their chosen king, but rather sons of the Living God.
Unfortunately, many of them wanted to be “loved” differently than how God deemed in their best interest. So much so that they rejected Jesus altogether, eventually crucifying Him because He did not meet their expectations of a savior.
Nevertheless, there are 4 beautiful lessons we can learn from Christ to help us respond to those who hate us. If He determined that we should be warned of negative reactions to our sincere love shown toward others, then we should be prepared.
4 Ways We Can Be Christlike When We Are Hated
1. Being hated didn’t change His purpose.
Regardless of how others responded to His loving them in their best interest (agapeo love), He was still going to continue that. Since God is love (1 John 4:16), there is no other motive or purpose to have. Just as Jesus continued to be Jesus, so should we continue to be His representatives whether in the face of reciprocated love or in the face of opposition. As Christians, we can keep our primary motivation for our time on this earth as unselfishly seeking the best for others. We exist to know God and make Him known to others. Love is at the root of both of these endeavors.
2. Being hated didn’t change His personality.
Thankfully, Jesus did not respond the way I used to respond when others were negative toward me. For too many years, I would become mad with those who were mad with me. Jesus, on the other hand, did not let the rejection or attacks of others change His behavior. Their lack of acknowledging what was truth did not become His reason to get ugly. He kept being true to His pure heart. He was lovingly consistent, without mirroring anyone else’s demeanor. Romans 12:18 NIV explains this mindset well I think.
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
This shows me that we are only responsible for ourselves, not others. Therefore, no matter how others react, we can still try to be genuine in our love and desire to do right by them. This may not mean that they will see that for what it is, as is evidenced in the life of Jesus. If He can remain true to His loving ways then so should we.
3. Being hated did not change His processing.
Later on in this passage, Jesus goes on to explain WHY He was hated when He had loved others purely as only God can. It says in John 15:25,
They hated me without reason.
Ok, this is a game changer! As a logical person, I continually get entangled by the unreasonable “reason” that someone doesn’t respond to my love toward them. But this verse tells me that someone else doesn’t even need a legitimate reason to hate me.
There is no point in relentlessly processing the disdain from someone else when we receive no conviction from God over our behavior or intentions toward them. Jesus did not waste His time trying to figure out false accusations. He did not let their falsehood or dysfunction become His narrative/identity. Nor should we.The Word of God is our narrative, not someone else's falsehood or dysfunction. Click To Tweet
We can love others and move on whether they are able to receive that love or not.
4. Being hated did not change His position.
Jesus was still the perfect Son of God even though He was hated, mocked and crucified. The view of others did not change the view from His Father. An accusation is not the same as a verdict. Romans 8:1 NIV echoes this truth for us.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,
We may be hated without reason but that doesn’t mean we are faulted by God for it. God knows if we are in sin and He will most certainly convict us over it if so. It is to our own best interest to ask God to examine us daily, to know if we are self-deceived or in denial by our sin toward others. The last thing we want is to live in rebellion or ignorance of sin but if there is no conviction, then we can let their hatred go in one ear and out the other, just as Jesus did.
Just because we are unable to live up to the expectations of others does not mean we are at fault, nor does it mean our love will be fruitless. We can trust Jesus’ words so that we are prepared for the times we are at a loss as to why we are hated. An accusation is not the same as a verdict.
We may not be able to change being hated by someone but we don’t have to let it change us! Live in freedom my friends and keep loving!We may not be able to change being hated by others but we don't have to let it change us! Christlikeness is not hindered even when it is not accepted by others. Click To Tweet