John 7:7 (To his brothers)If you are a follower of Jesus, the world hates you. For above stated reasons. mkay?
The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that what it does is evil.
John 17:14 (To God, about the disciples)
I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.
John 15:18 (To the disciples)
"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.
But what is "the world" Jesus is talking about?
We often use these verses to explain why we "as Jesus' ambassadors" are rejected by non-believers. And we have adopted this mindset in our "culture war" of the post-post-modern era to depict "the world" as our enemy and we we are so opposed to how those "outside the church" behave and live their lives. We equate those who do not believe in God with "the world."
Did Jesus do the same?
Jesus talks about the world hating us because it hated him. Who was it who hated him in the gospels? Who was it who constantly tried to trap him, trick him, get him arrested, get him killed and eventually crucify him? Who was it that Jesus himself "testified that what it does is evil?"
You know who it was. And it wasn't a group of "non-believers." It wasn't the prostitutes, drunks, tax collectors, gluttons, cheaters, thieves, adulterers.....or even the Hellenist philosophers. If Jesus is saying that the same group that hated him will hate us....we only need to see who it was who hated him...
It was the church.
It was the religious institution in the forms of that day both Pharisee and Sadducee alike. Nothing would draw these two groups together; they disagreed with and were quite opposed to each other. Until Jesus came along.
Here is more from John 15:
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'It seems very clear who he is talking about. The "world" is the group that Jesus came and spoke to and has now made guilty of their sin. But before they would not have been guilty of it. Even seeing the miracles they hated him. To fulfill what was written in THEIR LAW.
It should be very obvious here that Jesus is not talking about some group of "outsiders." Some group of "the lost" as we like to condescendingly label non-Christians. But instead he is talking about those who people view AS THE CHURCH at this point of history.
Those who he slammed as hypocritical snakes. Those who were more worried about condemning the vile "sinners" that they saw around them instead of loving, caring for and showing mercy to them. Those who knew the way to God and not only refused to go in themselves but stood in the doorway to block others from entering! Those are the world! Not those ignorant of God. Not those trapped in their sins. Not those who need help. No, not those outside the church at all.
The world is us. Those of us in the church who are not of God. Those of us who have been taught and now teach the ways of God that do not synergize with his message.
The world is the Pharisees. Those of us who want to keep our religious superiority and positions of power and authority over the "sinners." Those who say we want to reach "the lost" but in our words, deeds and attitudes only further condemn and drive them further away from God. Those of us who are SHOWN the error of our ways and the falsehood of our practices/attitudes and refuse to re-examine/repent of our sins. Who instead discredit those who are bringing the accusations and attempt to have them removed/silenced.
These are the ones who truly HATE the followers of Jesus.
Because, as Jesus did, his followers shine light onto the darkness. They show the hypocrisy, judgment, hate, bigotry, elitism for what it truly is. They are in the business of setting free those who have been held captive by the Pharisees and their unrepentantly false understandings.
I don't believe the Pharisees have ever left us. In fact, I personally think the Pharisee movement is stronger today than ever. I believe the "religious right" movement has done more damage to the message of Jesus and the receptiveness of non-believers than we could ever fully know. I think of all of satan's plans, it may be one of the cleverest he ever came up with.
A movement so powerful and ubiquitous that it is UN-DISTINGUISHABLE from Christianity to those outside of it and a majority of insiders as well. A movement that has embraced the very verses that talk about it and condemn it, and twisted them to condemn those who we are supposed to be embracing. Turned them into a rallying call for its own hypocrisy and hatred.
I also believe that just as in Jesus' day there are many in the movement who don't know it. That is, they do not understand or see the problem of their philosophy/attitudes. They have been deceived and captured by the Pharisees and then have become assimilated into Pharisees themselves. They are not guilty of their sin, because they have not been told.
There is always mercy. There is always grace. There is mercy and grace for them, just as there is mercy and grace for those they are keeping held captive. For those who are kept outside the door. For those who are forcibly driven away from the message of God because they only see messengers who are Pharisees.
I hope this can be fixed. I hope we can mitigate some damage. I hope we can stop standing in the door, and enter it ourselves. And then the others will follow.