Tuesday, January 15, 2008

love/ hate relationships...

this past sunday i preached from john 15. in verses 18 - 20a jesus says:

"If the world hates you,
know that it has hated mebefore it hated you.
If you were of the world, theworld would love
you as its own; but because youare not of the world,
but I chose you out of the world,therefore the world
hates you. Remember the word thatI said to you:'A servant
is not greater than his master.'If they persecuted me,
they will also persecute you"

in a time when our churches are scrambling to find the best way to
reach out to our culture,these words from jesus serve as a sharp
reminder that as we seek the lost we need not revert to becoming l
ike the world to do so.

jesus doesnt say that we seek to be hated, but rather if we are living
the life of a follower of christ, the differences will be noticed. and
where we refuse to compromise there will be division and dissention.

we would do well as individuals and as churches to frequently
self-examine ourselves.
do i look so much like the world that they do not notice a difference?
am i trying harder to be loved and accepted by the world than i am to be fully devoted to christ?

this applies in regards to how we *do* church as well. do we seek to be culturally relevant at the expense of fidelity to our message?

this quote from the great (some say greatest) baptist preacher, charles spurgeon rings true:

"I believe that one reason why the church of God at this present moment
has so little influence over the world is because the world has so much
influence over the church."

if the only difference the world sees between themselves and believers is our sunday schedules then we will have little headway in convincing them of their need for the gospel.

may the lord grant us hearts that burn to love and serve him in a way that does not leave to us the option to seek the love (or approval) of the world at the gospels expense.


Shaun said...

I think this is an interesting verse. If you look at the group in the scriptures that most hated Jesus - the people that plotted to kill him - they were the religious elite. The thieves, prostitutes, tax collectors, and the like all flocked to him. But it was the powerful pharisees and temple leaders (people who would generally be thought of as very much "not of the world") that always tried to trick him and eventually hatched the plan that put him to death.

It makes me wonder who Jesus is thinking of here when he says "The world hated me before it hated you." Is he thinking of "the world" as anyone that is not part of "the church" and isn't "saved"? Or his he thinking of "the world" as something else?

What are your thoughts on that?

stephen lee cavness said...

that is a good observation, shaun.

i think when jesus speaks of "the world", that he is referring to anyone who is not a believer, which would include those who reject the lord outright, as well as the religious hypocrites that are like white washed tombs.

in th egospel of john, john uses the word "world" deliberately as a place of darkness that rejects the light. so i think both categories of people fit well.

this very much fits into the discussion at hand. while we ought not seek to look like the world and do worldy things to attract people to the gospel, there are those who would call themselves believers who demand that looking like and behaving like the world is the only way to reach the world (though "reaching the world with what?" would be my question) there is a large debate going on now regarding the amount of approval some churches are looking for from the world in how they carry out the church's mission. teh question is about relevance i suppose.

i am not against recognizing and working within a cultural context where one is ministering, but the content of the gospel must not be compromised explicitly in its delivery, or implicitly in its methods.

good thoughts shaun...