Jesus vs. The Church Part II: This Time It’s Personal
My own life has been a series of “If I have that, then I’ll feel my life has meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I’ll feel significant and secure.”
What does that have to do with Jesus and the church?
Let’s look at John 15:18-16:33…
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.
“I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. 5 But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ 6 But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.
12 “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
16 “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” 17 So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” 18 So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” 19 Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? 20 Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
25 “I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures of speech but will tell you plainly about the Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27 for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.”
29 His disciples said, “Ah, now you are speaking plainly and not using figurative speech! 30 Now we know that you know all things and do not need anyone to question you; this is why we believe that you came from God.” 31 Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32 Behold, the hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is with me. 33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
There is a lot here to talk about but what I want to focus on is why Jesus expected “the world” to hate his followers?
The Greek term translated as “The World” means different things at different times in The Gospel of John, here it means that which makes sense from a narrow view that what we see around is all there is.
So, why would it hate the transcendent message of Jesus? The church has given different answers for that.
Some Christians would say it’s because we don’t engage in the “filth of the culture.”
Other Christians would say it’s because we vote a certain way.
Others would answer that it’s because we seek to bring liberation to the poor and oppressed.
There may be some truth in all of these answers, but I don’t think that’s what Jesus meant. I think Jesus knew that the message that he, and no one else, is God and King and, as such deserves our undivided loyalty, is what would truly rattle everyone.
The Bible often refers to “idolatry” or the worship of idols. What is an idol? Tim Keller writes, “It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give.”
We all have idols but how do we identify them? Again, Tim Keller writes, “the true god of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else demanding your attention.”
Ask yourself, what do you daydream about? What do you spend most of your money on? What are you goals? What are you most passionate about?
For men, this is often sex…big shocker there!
For women, it is often what Ernest Becker calls “apocalyptic romance.” The idea that a romance can save them. You can see this in horrible movies like “Twightlight” (at least I guess it’s terrible, I’ll never see it because I’m a dude!) and that 3-hour horrible soap opera with good special effects called “Titanic.”
I’ve met way too many women who believe that the right man will make them happy but, to quote Becker once again, the problem with these things is that “no human relationship can bear the burden of the godhead.”
The idol may be money even though this is normally a surface idol or it can be success or comfort or even children.
Idols are often good things that we try to make ultimate things.
Please understand that idolatry is not just a failure to obey God, it is “a setting of the whole heart on something beside God.” It is important to note that idol cannot just be removed, it must be uprooted and the cross of Jesus must be planted in its stead.
If we truly take Jesus seriously as our Lord and God then we should not expect a peaceful life but it will be an authentic, peace-filled one.
The problem with the church is that it doesn’t challenge these idols like Jesus and his original disciples did but, if we truly love people, then we must. Now, only those truly broken and ready will thank us for this, others will hate it. Yet, we are not called to be liked but to be faithful.
Let the uprooting begin.