READ THE SCRIPTURE: JOHN 15:18-16:3
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first … When the Counselor comes … he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
John 15:18, 26-27
It is remarkable that our Lord moves quickly from His words about love for one another to this word about the world’s hatred for the Christian. The world refers to secular society. It is not humankind. Humankind does not hate the church; it is the world that hates the church and the Lord of the church. The world is organized society without God, but with its own morals and standards and value systems. It is what we ordinarily call the system, and it is what hates believers and wants nothing to do with them.
What is to be the attitude of the Christian to this kind of world in which we still live? Our Lord’s answer is found in verses 26-27. He says, When the Spirit of God has come, you will bear witness to this world. The world is not to be left in its hopeless rejection of Christ–even though it has resisted and rejected truth when it knew it to be truth.
Every one of us has done this. Still, God does not abandon us. Even when He would be fully justified in turning His back and walking away and leaving us all to our own consequences, He does not do so. He continues to bear a witness before the world.
So the Christian is not to retaliate, not to resent the hatred and persecution of the world, not to be vindictive and to return evil for evil. Rather, we are exhorted to return good for evil. Nor are we to retire from the world, to withdraw from it and build a Christian ghetto in which to hide ourselves and then throw tracts across the chasm! Rather, we are to move into the world, live in its midst just as Jesus did, and bear witness to the truth, even though it is often rejected. We are to do this for the sake of those who will receive, believe, and accept the Word.
This witness is twofold. Primarily it is the witness of the Holy Spirit. He does what no person can do. The Spirit of God opens hearts, removes blindness, and opens minds to understand. He bears witness that a word is true, gives it a ring of authenticity, so that power in witnessing rests with the Spirit, not with us. As Jesus indicates here, we are to bear witness too as the apostles did–as to what they saw and heard, what they themselves experienced. That is where every Christian stands. Just before His ascension Jesus said, But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses . . . (Acts l:8a). We are all to be witnesses of what Jesus has been to us, what we have experienced, what has happened in our lives, what He has done for us.
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And the Holy Spirit will witness with that, using those words, simple as they may be, to open minds and to break through hard hearts, to pierce and break down barriers, and to open people up to the Word. Thus, the business of the church is to witness before a hating world.
Lord, You have placed me in this world. Now let me be Your witness today in all that I say and do.
What is to be our response when we see or experience hate in the world? What is the way we can be an effective witness?