As the work of spreading the gospel to every people group (ethne) around the world moves forward, often in hostile environments, it is good to remember the advice Jesus gave to His disciples. In reference to the end times, He said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Matthew 24:9; see also 10:22).
We certainly should not be going around looking for the world to hate us or inflict persecution on the Church, but it should be expected from the world. Notice how Jesus presents this in John 15; “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 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” (John 15:18–19).
Let us remember that every believer has transferred their citizenship and loyalty from this world to a heavenly kingdom. But more than that, Jesus has chosen us “out of the world” and it has no claim on us. He repeats this in His prayer to the Father; “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (17:14–16). The Word and Jesus both cause hatred.
These two principles must go together; hated by the world because we are not of the world. As we pursue living for Christ and the glory of God, let us not be surprised by hatred aimed at us, because our citizenship is not here; “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
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