The silent treatment

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”

According to the words of Jesus in the verse above, the world will likely hate us if we are one of His followers.   By the “world” Jesus is referring to the ordered systems of this world, and all who are a part of it.  So then, are you hated by the world?  Do you feel like you’re an object of its wrath? If your answer is “No” you may want to ask, “Why not then?” 

In context, Jesus is speaking about those who follow Him. And those who follow Him are those who love Him and obey Him, for loving Him and obeying Him are one in the same (John 14:23).  And what does He want you to do?  First and foremost, it is to “preach the gospel to every creature . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20).”  Of course, the gospel consists of the message that people are sinful and because of their sin they are destined for hell.  But God demonstrated His love for them in that while they were yet sinners, Christ died for them. If they believe this and repent, they will be saved.  So then, to speak to others in the way Jesus has commanded us is to both love them and love Him. And isn’t that His greatest commandment?

It is the first part of this message, i.e., that people are sinful at heart, that most people don’t want to hear.  Typically, they will respond negatively to this part of the gospel. They may reject it, and even hate you for saying it.  It may happen even if we speak to them “with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15),” which is the way God has commanded us to speak the gospel to them.  But if they hate us for it, so what? Jesus commanded us to say it anyway. So, if we aren’t obeying our Lord by telling people this message, why not?  Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to upset people and make them feel bad.  Or maybe we want to avoid the backlash.  One certain reason, however, is not because of our love for Christ. If we love Him, we will obey Him.  However, if we love ourselves more, which is what we are doing when we fear the backlash, we will remain silent.  Neither are we keeping silent because we love our neighbors, because they can only be saved if they hear the gospel from someone. And if they don’t hear it from you or me, then I suppose we’ll have to hope they hear it from someone who actually loves them more than we do, i.e., someone who is willing to be hated for their sake as well as for the sake of Christ. 

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