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Daily Reading: 26th August 2015

John 15.17-19 cont.

17 I command you this thing: That you should love one another.

18 If the world hates you, you know that it first of all hated Me.

19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own, but you do not belong to the world. Instead I have called you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.

Hatred of Christians is nothing new. It was the hatred of the religious leaders for Jesus that brought Him to death on a Roman cross. They had despised Him throughout His ministry, and had sought to have Him killed.

Very early on in His ministry, when Jesus had healed a man whose hand had shrivelled up we read:

And the Pharisees went out immediately, and met with the Herodians, plotting against Him, as to how they might kill Him – Mark 3.6.

There was a brief period when the believers had the favour of all men:

[46] They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity,

[47] all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved – Acts 2.46-47 (NLT).

However, it was not long before the hatred of the world, which Jesus prophesied, was soon to come to fulfilment.

In the time that John was writing His gospel the Christians were regarded by the Romans as rebellious.

The Roman Empire was vast, covering lands from Britain in the west to the Euphrates in the east, and from North Africa in the south to the borders of Germany in the north. The Empire had developed Emperor worship in an attempt to unify all the peoples of the various nations.

Once a year this required every citizen in the Empire to burn some incense and declare that Caesar was their lord.

This brought about an inevitable clash with Christians, since they could never declare anybody to be lord except Jesus.

Therefore, they refused to do what was required of every citizen. Consequently they were hated, hunted down, and many were killed, just because they professed the Lordship of Jesus over their lives.

We still live in times where the followers of Jesus are hated, hunted down, and have their homes and property confiscated and some are even killed.

Even in the UK it is becoming increasingly likely that there will be a clash between Christians and the world. The followers of Jesus are gradually having their rights eroded.

It is a time to do as the old hymn says: Stand up, Stand up for Jesus.

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