John 15:18-25, "The Cost of Fruitfulness"
Would every person who enjoys being hated please stand up!
If you enjoy being hated by any person for any reason, would you please stand!
What? Is there no one standing but me? Well let me find a seat - quick!
It was Jesus’ last message to His eleven disciples. Within twenty four hours he will be dead and buried and they will be left completely bereft. Yes, in 3 days he will rise from the dead and they will be lifted up in hope and joy. Yet in another 40 days, He will ascend back to His place on the throne of God and they will be left to carry on His work in the world. Last words are important and Jesus last words as recorded in John chapter 15 included three parts:
- The disciples relationship with him which includes God’s desire for fruitfulness v. 1 - 8
2.Their relationship with one another which includes receiving the love of God and living out that love in the local church. V. 9 - 17
3.Their relationship with the world around them. V. 18 - 25
In that first message we learned that
- The chief purpose of every believer in Christ is to produce fruit.
- Not every professing believer produces fruit.
- The only way to produce fruit is through our living attachment to Christ.
- Producing much fruit glorifies God and gives evidence of our being a true follower of Christ.
In that second message I sought to show you the heart of God:
- God desires that we live in the love of God
- God desires that we live in the joy of the Lord
- God desires that we live in His love in this church
- God desires that we live as friends, not just servants of Christ.
- God desires that we live as those chosen by Jesus
It is the third part of his message on which we will concentrate this morning which deals with
3.Their relationship with the world around them.
In this third message Jesus wants his followers to understand that living in the love of God will lead you into hatred from the world.
18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Jesus knew what he was talking about. Over and over in John’s gospel, we read that the Jews sought to kill him; they sent officers to take him; now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. Now, he tells them solemnly "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. And this reality has continued to this day.
Do you hear what your Lord and Master is saying to you this morning?
He is saying that if you are serious about living for Jesus, you had better be prepared to be unpopular, disliked and at least sometimes even be hated by some of the people in this world.
Ouch! That is not a message you wanted to hear, is it? You know that Christians in other lands are subject to intense persecution, but here in Canada?
If you are a fairly new believer or if you have been considering accepting the Lord as your Saviour, this may be a new thought for you. But it is important to let you know - there is a cost to being a Christian.
I think that most of you are like me - you are more of a lover than a fighter. You would like to be well liked in your daily life, by those people in your family, by those people in your workplace, by those people in your community, by those folks in your seniors’ residence.
And for the most part, you get along in all of those places fairly well.
But if you let people know that you are a Christian, that you are “saved,” that you are “born again”, that you know you are going to go to heaven when you die, that may make a difference. If you never tell anybody, you may escape that odd look, that sudden quietness, or perhaps that open ridicule. But if Christ really has changed your life, then you can expect that not everyone is going to be pleased about it. And the negative reactions may start much closer to home than you expect.
Perhaps you have known some Christians who pushed their Christianity on others and were rejected and avoided as a result. You don’t want to be like them! You try to be a nice person, to be kind and loving to others, to not draw attention to yourself by being too vocal about your faith in Jesus Christ. But even so, you may experience looks, or attitudes or actions perhaps not so much directed at you, but at the Bible, at the church or at Christianity in general. Jesus doesn’t want you to be surprised at negative reactions.
He states quite plainly that one of the costs of being a Christian is that you will be hated by the world.
- What is the world which hated Jesus and his followers?
I find it interesting that Jesus now speaks of the world rather than about the Jewish leaders who showed their fixed attitude toward him from the beginning and which will carry over to his followers.
When Jesus used the term world, it is obvious that he is not thinking of the physical world, nor even about the world of mankind in general which God loves. He is obviously talking about the world system controlled by Satan which has been hostile to God from the time of the fall. He is talking about the people dominated by the world system and the world’s thinking - those people who resent the very idea that they are responsible to an unseen being named God.
- Why would the world hate the disciples and other followers of Christ?
It is precisely for that reason. The world hated Me before it hated you. 19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
It’s because you are different. You are not “of the world” This is an important truth. Once you lived in the world and shared its attitudes, but now God has called you out of that world into a living relationship with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ..
Now, you look at everything differently. Now you recognize how shallow the world is. You understand what sin is now, and you are trying to live a clean life separate from those sinful thoughts and actions which once were part of your life.
- Why are we so much more fortunate than people in many other lands?
We in the western world have had the benefits of the gospel for several centuries. Our society, in the past was strongly influenced by the Word of God and sheltered under His love and mercy. Until 3 or 4 generations ago, church going was a normal experience and the gospel influenced our whole culture. Even yet we are still protected to some degree by that background, but things have changed dramatically since the sixties. Our culture now is controlled by secular humanism which rejects God and his sovereignty. Man is now the controller of all things and man’s ideas of right and wrong are fluid, shifting with the latest idea of that which is politically correct. Tolerance is the order of the day, except when anything challenges the prevailing views. Then the people of the world become fiercely intolerant of all things Christian.
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 keep yours also.
You must not be surprised that the things you have considered good are now seen as evil and the things which the Bible called evil are now considered good.
- What is the real reason for this change of attitude?
21 "But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.
There is the reason. Our society does not know God. He has become just a name, often to be used in a meaningless way, “Oh, God”, “My God!” with very little thought that there really is a God who loves them and sent His Son to pay for their sins and shortcomings. The name of God and of Jesus is a swear word which is so common that people have no idea that they have used it continually and are totally shocked if you point out to them their language. They do not know God, nor do they want to know God. To acknowledge that there is a God, means that they have to consider that there is someone to whom they will give account for their lives. It is much more comfortable to believe that this life is all there is and that there is no after life; there is no judgement to be concerned about. When I am dead, I’m dead!
- But our society will be held accountable for the privileges it has enjoyed.
22 "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
also.24 "If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin;
A society is responsible for the privileges it enjoys. The nation of Israel, under the leadership of the Jewish leaders - the priests and Levites, the scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees
were responsible for their rejection of their Messiah.
Jesus says clearly. "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. They heard my words; they observed my works, my miracles, and they are responsible for their reactions. If I had not come among them, they could insist that their interpretation of the Bible is the correct one, and that Jewish people are all under their control. Now, Jesus has come and exposed their sin and hypocrisy and they have no excuse. They are responsible for their rejection of their Messiah and they shall bear their guilt.
If that was true of them, what of us?
Our western society has had the Word of God for hundreds of years. Our laws, our institutions, our governments and medicine and hospitals and education were all founded on the basic principles from God’s Word. Even though human behaviour was largely based on religion rather than a relationship with God through faith in Christ, true Christians have been protected by the moral values of the Christian faith. There was a clear definition of right and wrong.
But that has been eroded more and more quickly in the last 60 years to the point at which Christians are looked upon as part of the problem rather than part of the solution to man’s woes.
Our western civilization is responsible for the blessings it has received. How true are Christ’s words,
If I had not come and spoken to them, if they did not have the record of my words and works, they would have no sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
Not one person living in Canada or the United States can really plead ignorance of what God declares to be right and wrong. Ours is not the relatively innocent ignorance of those who have never heard the gospel in other lands Ours is a wilful rejection of God and His Son if we have not received Christ and surrendered our wills to Him.
- What is the real, underlying reason for rejection or hatred of Christians?
Now perhaps you may feel that the word hatred is too strong a word for the world’s attitude. But consider the words of Romans 8:7 “the carnal mind [is] enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be.”
Many are the Christians who have refused to take this difference between a Christian outlook and the world’s outlook seriously and have been sure that the one they loved would come around and embrace their Saviour given the opportunity, only to find out that the difference either required a complete compromise on their own part or else contributes to unexpected but serious tensions in the home.
The real reason for people’s antipathy toward professing Christians and the church is clearly stated in verse 23 "He who hates Me hates My Father also and verse 24 they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father.
That resentment of all things Christian, that rejection of objective truth in our society is growing stronger year by year. You hear it and see it by the things espoused by our culture. Every vice is tolerated and defended as normal. Every form of sexual immorality is openly practiced without any attempt to disguise it and you are dared to question it or criticize it. Unfortunately it has spilled over into Christian circles too, and professing Christians, some of whom have been deacons and pastors, and evangelists have fallen into sin, bringing reproach on Christianity and the church.
Now listen again to Jesus diagnosis: The real reason is that they don’t know God.
Now it is true that God forgives sin, but what happens when his forgiveness is not sought and sin is engaged in blatantly and unashamedly.
Oh, dear ones, this is the day we are living in and you and I are being influenced by it and cowed into accepting it. Be careful, dear ones, because we all know professing Christians who no longer walk with the Lord. Sin is pervasive, Sin is deceptive and we are not immune to its pull.
Having warned his disciples about the real reason for his upcoming death, he concludes with a reference back to two of the Psalms which foretold his present situation.
Everything that has happened, he said was to fulfil scripture, 25 "But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’
In verses 26 and 27, he continues his teaching about the coming of the Holy Spirit. We shall look at the Spirit’s work next week.
But before we leave, let’s take one look further into chapter 16.
1 "These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble. 2 "They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. 3 "And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me. 4 "But these things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.”
Dear ones, there is a cost to becoming a Christian. I don’t preach this in order to discourage anyone one from accepting Christ or living for Him. I preach these things because I have seen too many people start out on the Christian life and then falter and turn away. You need to consider the cost and make up your mind that whatever it costs it is abundantly worth it to belong to the Lord and to serve Him.
My wife and I have proven the joy and blessing of trusting the Lord and living for him and we have long since made up our mind that we want to
“Bloom where I’m planted.”
I want to bloom where I’m planted, so everyone can see, the wondrous loving Son of God who lives His life in me; I want to bloom where I’m planted, to blossom and to grow, For blooming is the only way His love can really show.
I want to bloom where I’m planted, wherever that may be, For springs of living water are available to me. I want to bloom where I’m planted, as years go passing by, With leaves that never wither and with roots that never die.
I want to bloom where I’m planted, and brighten up each day By showing love to everyone who comes along my way; I want to bloom where I’m planted, contented anywhere, For constantly, He gives to me, His tender loving care.
I want to bloom, bloom, bloom, where I’m planted, I want to bloom, bloom, bloom, where I’m planted, so everyone can see, the beauty of Jesus in me.