18 “My disciples, does the world hate you? Remember that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you like one of its own. But you do not belong to the world. I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you. I said, ‘A slave is not more important than his master.’ (John 13:16) If people hated me and tried to hurt me, they will do the same to you. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you like that because of my name. They do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24 I did works among them that no one else did. If I hadn’t, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen those works. And still they have hated both me and my Father. 25 This has happened so that what is written in their Law would come true. It says, ‘They hated me without any reason.’ (Psalms 35:19; 69:4) 26 “I will send the Friend to you from the Father. He is the Spirit of truth, who comes out from the Father. When the Friend comes to help you, he will be a witness about me. 27 You must also be witnesses about me. That’s because you have been with me from the beginning.
In this passage Jesus warns His disciples that they will be persecuted and hated because of Him. Jesus was about to die on a cross to pay for the sins of mankind, thereby dramatically highlighting the fact that sin is a massive issue that must be addressed. Jesus confronts us with the issue of our sin, it’s gravity, our need to admit our wrong and repent. He confronts us with our need for a Saviour. It is offensive to us because it says we cannot be righteous on our own, we cannot earn our right to relationship with God and we are utterly stuck without God. Who would really want to hear this? Who of us ever wants to admit being in the wrong? Unless we have come to the end of ourselves and accepted our helplessness we fight against this undermining of our independence.
Humanity has reacted in the same way then as now by outright rejecting Jesus; or if that fails by trying to ignore, make irrelevant, tame through the use of humour and ridicule, or discredit by highlighting the downfalls of some of His followers. It is an attempt to get rid of the confrontation and get rid of the sin issue. Put like that it makes sense to me why believers might be told to leave their private beliefs at home. If we censor our lives though we fail to show that on the other side of this sin issue, this confrontation with our lack, is the freedom of forgiveness and the prize of relationship with God.
God, please help me reveal by my life that Jesus did not come to doom us to a life of feeling guilty, but to free us once and for all from guilt, shame and punishment. Let me walk each day in the awareness of that freedom and in close friendship with you. By your power at work in and through me may others come to appreciate and walk in this truth as well. Amen.
Written by Beth Waugh