“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.” – John 15:18-19
For my money, this is one of the trickiest of Jesus’ teachings.
It’s true, of course. Shelter immigrants in your church, treat convicts as if they’re people, resist the government, pledge allegiance to the realm of Heaven first, and everybody from your cousin to the authorities will come down on you. The ire of the world is, in fact, one solid measure of how well you’re Jesusing.
Problem is, you can get the same reaction by doing stuff that’s anti-Christ, as well. And should you happen to be doing that stuff as part of the cult you’re building or twisted church you’re running, the disapprobation you draw can convince you that your terribly wrong track is, in fact, right.
“Of course they hate our beloved Jonestown; it’s a conspiracy! Here, drink this.”
“Of course they have a problem with us hating gays and not ordaining women; that’s because they’re of this world and we’re not. Jesus said this would happen.”
Thank God this isn’t the only rubric Jesus offered for evaluating our actions.
“You will know them by their fruits.”
“Do unto others…”
“Do you love me? Then tend my sheep.”
“Do it to them and you do it to me.”
“Wash one another’s feet.”
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another.”
As long as this world endures, hatred will be a fact of life. But if you’re trying to measure whether you’re Jesusing well, here’s a pro tip: don’t use hatred—given or received—as your primary rubric. Use love.
God, I don’t know why, but sometimes loving the way you love makes others hate me. Grant that the measure of my success might be not how much they hate me, but how much I love them. Amen.
Quinn G. Caldwell is a father, husband, homesteader and preacher living in rural upstate New York. His most recent book is a series of daily reflections for Advent and Christmas called All I Really Want: Readings for a Modern Christmas. Learn more about it and find him on Facebook at Quinn G. Caldwell.