How worried the Pharisee were for Jesus
Why the world hates Christians
Jesus told his disciples, “I have chosen you and determined you to go and bear fruit.” Then he quickly added these solemn words: “And your fruit may remain” (John 15:16).
These words of Christ apply to all of his disciples in every age. In essence, he is telling us: "See that your fruit will continue on Judgment Day."
The word “fruit” means to fulfill the work and ministry of Christ here on earth. As a believer, I am chosen and destined to go into all the world and preach the gospel of Christ. More than that, as a minister of this gospel, I am called to create and train true disciples.
Well, there is such a thing as false conversion. Jesus warned the Pharisees: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you traverse the sea and the dry land to make a proselyte; and if he has become one, you make him a son of hell, twice as bad as you ”(Matthew 23:15; Elberfelder Bible 2006).
Those are harsh words, but they come from the Lord Himself. And Jesus addressed these words to zealous Jews who made others proselytes. They were Bible scholars, people who knew the scriptures.
You may ask yourself, “How can what Jesus is saying here be possible? How could people trying to convert make the lost into an even worse condition? "
Jesus answers this. When he shouted: “Hypocrisy!” He explained to the Pharisees: “Your fruit is bad.” And he warned them: “You [will] receive an even more severe judgment” (23:14).
The Pharisees Jesus spoke to were more concerned with numbers than with seeing the real work of conversion in people's hearts. Jesus basically said to them:
“You close heaven to your so-called 'converts'. And it happens because you yourself have no word from God in your life. You go to extreme lengths to plan conversions. But in reality you close the sky to the people you reach. "
Tragically, we see in the church today how the same Spirit drives too many. I wonder if Jesus would say something similar to many of the shepherds in charge of God's house:
“You cross the sea and the land because of new concepts, ideas and programs. And all to get people into your church. The hypocrisy of numbers has gripped you. You measure success by how many people fill your seats. "
I can tell you that not everyone in our church who calls themselves a Christian is a truly converted, saved believer. At the same time, however, I can assure you that if such people come here and end up twice as bad a child in Hell, it will not come from what they heard from the pulpit. It will not be because of an incomplete gospel message. No, it will be because they rejected convicting Holy Spirit-wrought truth.
I ask you: where are shepherds who will not weaken their message for the high and mighty? Where are preachers so devoted to Christ that they preach the same message to kings as to the poor and despised?
I tremble at the thought that it is possible for me, or any other gospel preacher, to close heaven and cause "converts" to become twice as bad children of hell. But it is happening today. All because of the need of some preachers to be loved and praised by others. They compromise the truth in order to be accepted by the world.
Jesus addressed that. He called his disciples together and sharply rebuked the scribes "in the audience" of the whole people:
“Beware of the scribes, who love to walk in long robes, and they like to be greeted in the market and like to sit on top in the synagogues and at the table” (Luke 20:46).
In short, he was telling the people: “Beware of shepherds who love the praise of people. Look for people in the Bible who are seeking the affection and applause of the people. Watch out for church leaders who want recognition from society. "
A church that is accepted and approved by the world is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. It is an impossibility. According to Jesus, every church that is loved by the world is of the world, and not of Christ:
“If you were of the world, the world would love yours. But because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you ”(John 15:19).
My life has been greatly influenced by the writings of Presbyterian missionary George Bowen, who worked in India from 1838 to 1879. Bowen gave up all of his missionary support to move to a slum and live just like the locals did there. He led a very frugal existence on the edge of poverty. Yet because of that choice, he left a testimony of the true power of life in Christ.
This godly man warned of a coming anti-Christian spirit. He identified this anti-Christian spirit as the "spirit of modern society." According to Bowen, that spirit would prevail in the Protestant community with the thinking, methods, and morals of larger society.
The anti-Christian spirit would continue its influence until society and church could no longer be distinguished. In time, the world would lose its hatred for the church of Christ and the true believers. She would stop persecuting her, and the church would be loved and accepted by the world. Once that happened, Bowen wrote, the spirit of the Antichrist would have taken the throne.
A few months ago, when the doors of Iraq opened to Christian aid agencies, the New York Times circulated a derogatory article. That is to be expected from a liberal, secular press. You could applaud a food distribution in Iraq, but certainly not the preaching of Christ.
But the article quoted an evangelical scholar who was critical of these efforts. He publicly condemned them in their entirety, saying that the church should mind its own business. In fact, this man of the Bible was embarrassed that the church was going to evangelize. That is worldly thinking!
We will encounter enemies everywhere - people who oppose us in the workplace, in the neighborhood, and even in some churches - for fulfilling the commission of Christ.
Again Jesus warns: “Woe to you if everyone speaks well to you! For their fathers did the same to the false prophets ”(Luke 6:26). Let me ask you, does the world praise you? Are you celebrated by the whole city? Do you get a lot of praise at secular events? Are you politically correct in your interactions? Do mayors, dignitaries and famous people feel comfortable around you? Then hear Jesus' words to you: "There is something wrong with your testimony."
Jesus himself makes it clear: if any church moves in the power of the Holy Spirit and fulfills its mission as he commanded, that church will be hated and persecuted by the world. Like Paul, the pastor will be seen as the scum of the earth. And the church will be hated by wicked politicians and wicked leaders of society. And it will also be despised by homosexuals, by pornographers, and most of all by apostate religious leaders who are spiritually dead.
But Jesus tells this church:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. You are blessed when people insult and persecute you for my sake and speak all kinds of evil against you when they lie with them. Be cheerful and of good cheer; you will be richly rewarded in heaven. For in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you ”(Matthew 5: 10-12).
A true Christian is loving, peaceful, forgiving, and caring. Those who obey Jesus' words are self-sacrificing, meek, and kind.
Well, common wisdom tells us that it is not natural to hate those who love you, bless you, and pray for you. Rather, people only hate those who abuse, rob, and curse them. So why are Christians so hated?
Jesus simply says: "If the world hates you, know that it hated me before you ... If it persecuted me, it will persecute you too" (John 15:18, 20). Why is that?
The church and every clergyman and believer in it are hated for their mission. You see, our mission is much more than saying to the lost, "Jesus loves you." It is more than trying to please and appease people.
You may be surprised when I remind you what our mission is. Simply put, our mission as Christians is to deprive the wicked of what they love most: self-righteousness. It is to transfer them to a freedom that they consider slavery. It is to separate them from damning sins, a blessing they see ending in boredom and sadness.
The most precious thing for a worldly person is his self-righteousness. Think about it: he has spent his entire life forming a good opinion of himself. He has made an idol of his good works. He praises himself for being really good at heart and kind to others. Simply put, he built his own Tower of Babel, a monument to his own goodness. He is sure that he is good enough for Heaven and too good for Hell.
This ungodly man has spent years suppressing and numbing his conscience. He has taught himself to silence any voice of conviction that comes over him. And now he's enjoying a false peace. He is so deceived that he even believes that God admires him!
And now, just as he has turned off the voice of his conscience, you, a Christian, come along. And the truth that you bring speaks louder than his dead conscience: "If you are not born again, you cannot come into the kingdom of heaven."
Suddenly, in that person's opinion, you are a threat. You are someone who wants to take away his certainty that everything is fine with his soul. The whole time he thought he was okay. But now you are telling him that all his good works are like filthy rags.
I tell you, this person will not consider you to be bringing good news. No, in his eyes you are a tormentor, someone who tries to rob him of his peaceful sleep at night.
Such people think they are under God's gracious grace simply because they are in church. Yet they have created their own concept of who Christ is. Your Christ is just like you. And this Christian is not formed by God's Word, but by his own blindness.
Now come around and tell them that they are rebels with no repentance and real life change. They tell you that your self-made integrity is an abomination to God. And instead of standing in God's favor, they are more likely to be under His anger if they continue with their sins.
They have come proclaiming the blood of Christ, a new birth, separation from the world, a life of submission and obedience. But you say all this to people who are convinced that they don't need anything. They cannot understand how such changes could possibly bring peace and happiness. To them it sounds like a dry, empty wasteland.
Some ministers, reading this, will object, “This is not my mission at all. I would never be so confrontational. ”Others may explain,“ I am called to bring the gospel of love and grace. That is why I preach a non-controversial message. "
I cannot speak for other pastors. I can only say what I know And for fifty years now, I've preached to some of the toughest, nastiest sinners on earth: drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes. But I tell you, these sinners are far less resistant to the truth of the gospel than many who sit in pews and are blind to their own condition.
Thousands of so-called believers across America are more hardened than anyone on the street. And no elaborate, softly spoken, half-truth gospel will bring down the walls of their wickedness.
Saul of Tarsus was just such a hardened religious man. A Pharisee among Pharisees, an upright figure in an upscale religious society. Saul had it all together. So, did Jesus come to put this man to a vote and ask what he would like to see in a synagogue service?
No, Saul was thrown to the ground by a blinding light, a full blast of Christ's presence. It was a piercing, confrontational encounter that exposed Paul's heart, exposing his sin.
As a servant of the gospel of Christ, I should do the same. It is my job to convict men and women of their sin. I am supposed to warn them of the danger that awaits them if they go on like this on their paths. And no flattery, or subtlety, or making them like me will change their state.
To put it bluntly, I am called to lead people to give up everything in order to follow a Christ they find unattractive. Only the Holy Spirit within me can do that.
Please do not misunderstand what I am saying here. I proclaim the mercy, grace and love of Christ to all people. And I do it with tears. But the only thing that will break through the walls built by hardened people is a blast from the presence of Jesus. And that has to come out of the mouths of contrite, praying pastors and parishioners.
This verse gets right to the heart of why we are hated. When we were saved, we "came out of the world." And we accepted our mission of insisting that others "come out of the world." “But you are not of the world… therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19). In essence, Christ is saying, “The world hates you because I called you out of your condition. And that means that I have called you out of their fellowship. But I didn't just call you out. I then sent you to call out everyone else. "
The Protestant anti-Christian spirit works to prevent this separation of Christians from the world. He makes it seem possible for believers to remain in the world and still regard themselves as Christians.
You may ask, "What exactly does Jesus mean when he says 'the world'?"
He doesn't just speak of ungodly desires, delusional pleasure, pornography, or adultery. No, “the world” to which Christ refers is not some list of evil practices. That's only part of it. Many Muslims have "got out" of all of these things by sheer willpower and fear of ruin.
“The world” of which Jesus speaks is an unwillingness to surrender to his rule. In short: worldliness is any attempt to confuse Christ with self-will.
You see, when we surrender to the rulership of Christ, we are attached to Jesus. And we are led step by step by the Holy Spirit into a walk of purity and righteousness. We begin to appreciate divine correction.
I recognize this truth every time I get up to preach. As I look into our congregation from the pulpit, I see nonbelievers who have come in for the first time, scattered among the faithful believers every week.Some are successful business people, on their own and with a strong drive. Others come from all sorts of walks of life. But all are heavily laden with hidden sins. These people live as they please and not under any spiritual authority. But they are empty and disaffected. You are tired of chasing after pleasures that can never satisfy.
I could give them all kinds of sermons about principles and rules of conduct, or how to manage stress, or how to deal with fear and guilt. But no such preaching gets anyone “out of the world”. It doesn't change anyone's heart.
I just have to tell the nonbeliever that their self-will, confidence, and persistent effort to do everything their own way will destroy them. And in the end it will bring them eternal torment.
If I do not give him this message, then I will have closed heaven from him forever. And I made him a double comrade in Hell. His condition will be worse than before he came through our doors.
I have to bring this man to the message of being crucified face to face for his independence. I have to show him that he has to get out of his deceptive world of self-made goodness. I have to tell him that there is no way to find peace in his life except through total surrender to King Jesus.
Otherwise, I have deceived this man. And I have committed the horrific sin of the worst form of pride: I counted him as a "convert" in order to look good myself. May it never be like that!
As a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have an obligation to tell his truth to anyone who truly repents: "You will be hated and persecuted from now on."
With these terrible words, Jesus gives us the litmus test of a true church and a true disciple. I wonder how many churches and Christians these words could be said today: "The world cannot hate you."
In essence, Christ is saying, “You brought the world into the church - you have so diluted my gospel - that the world embraces you. You have become friends of the world. ”James gives us this warning in his letter:“ That friendship with the world is enmity with God ... Whoever wants to be the friend of the world will be God's enemy ”(James 4: 4).
Of course, Jesus was a friend of politicians and sinners. But it is also written that he was "set apart from sinners" (Hebrews 7:26; Elberfelder Bible 2006). He served sinners but as one in submission to his Father. Like him we are called to be in the world but not of it.
“Remember the word I told you… if they persecuted me, they will persecute you too” (John 15:20). You don't need to seek persecution. She won't come because of your professional achievements, or your race, or your appearance. No, it will come simply because you make Christ your Lord.
God be gracious to every Christian whom the world does not hate. And God help the politician who takes a stand for Christ. The world will hate him and demonize him.
Now let me give you a word of encouragement. Even if the world hates and persecutes the true disciples of Christ, we will find growing love and divine affection among the members of his church. Indeed, what makes the world hate us now makes our righteous brothers and sisters even more caring for us.
In the days to come, love will become more precious in God's house. We will be hated by the whole world, blasphemed by the media, ridiculed by Hollywood, ridiculed by colleagues and made laughter by society. But when we come to God's house, we will enter a place of inconceivable love, where we love one another as Christ loves us.
It will no longer matter what persecution we faced. We will be greeted with these words: “Welcome home, brother, welcome home, sister. Here is the place where you are loved. ”We will be rebuilt to continue to go out, as our Lord commands us to do, with His true gospel.
Bible passages - unless otherwise stated - based on the Luther translation in 1984. The verse numbers given may differ in some Bible editions.
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