Tag Archives: Truth

The Christian’s Relationship to the World (Part I): John 15:18-19

Earth

One of the primary questions that Christians find themselves asking at some point in their lives is, “What is my relationship with the world meant to look like?” It is clear that the common stance among the majority (not all) of your modern “mega churches” is that the Christian’s relationship with the world should be one that is non-offensive, politically correct, and culturally compliant. The message today is that the church must become like the world in order to reach the world. As a result, we see concerts replacing worship, pep-talks replacing preaching, and tolerance replacing Biblical truth. The question that every Christian must ask him/herself is:

Does becoming like the world really accomplish the goal of presenting the true message and purpose of Jesus Christ?

In order to answer that question, we will look at John 15:18-19. In this passage Jesus is informing His disciples of an incredibly important reality concerning their relationship with the world. Undoubtedly, Jesus wanted His disciples to be prepared for what they would receive in response to the message that He had given them concerning His salvation. Immediately, Jesus begins in verses 18-19 by saying, 18If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. There is an obvious truth in verse 19 that much of the modern church is missing today in its quest to be “culturally accepted”. That truth is found in the statement,

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own.

Who is it that the world loves as its own? Those that are OF the world. Those that fit into the world’s system and comply with it. To understand this, it is crucial that we understand what is meant by the world. First of all, Jesus said to Pilate in John 18:36, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from this world.” Jesus made a clear statement to Pilate that His kingdom is not bound by or operated within the world’s system. It is separate and empowered by the conquering hand of God. Why is this so?

It is because of the fact that the world and its system is in full control of Satan and is in complete rebellion against God.

Ephesians 2:1-2 tells us that we once walked in the ways of this world, controlled by the prince of the power of the air, meaning Satan himself. However, we no longer walk in rebellion, but in obedience. What does that tell us about how we as Christians will fit into this world? It tells us that we will NEVER fit this world’s system and we will not be accepted by the world’s system. Why? Because the message of Jesus Christ, if presented truthfully, is offensive to a world in rebellion against Him! That is exactly what Jesus told His disciples in John 15:1 when He said, “if the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” The New American Commentary states, “Jesus modeled the standard of God and that meant his very presence in the world was a reminder to the world of its evil works and God’s resultant judgment.” [1] That is exactly why when the true message of Christ is presented, it is vehemently rejected by many. This reality can be seen in the martyrdom of Christians throughout history and it is still alive today.

We will not be accepted by the world because the world doesn’t accept our Master. Therefore, we shouldn’t strive to be accepted by the world but instead should strive to present the true message of Jesus Christ, unaltered and with conviction.

What does that mean that we should be ready for as Christians? It means that we should be ready for rejection and outright persecution. It means that we should seek God to boldly present His message, not one that the world would decide is proper. The message of Jesus Christ is a message that calls the world to give up their lives and surrender to Him as Lord and Savior (Matthew 16:24-25) and in return receive eternal life. It is a message of love, but it is also a message that confronts sin and reveals human bankruptcy. The message that the world accepts is one that grabs onto the idea of eternal life but without the sacrifice. The world wants a Jesus that offers the goods but doesn’t require devotion. When we conform to the world in our message, we are presenting Christ in that way. We as Christians must refuse to do anything but share the same message that Jesus taught His disciples. That is a message of surrender. That message is offensive, but it is the ONLY message that will truly bring the lost into relationship with Jesus.

[1] Borchert, G. L. (2002). John 12–21 (Vol. 25B, p. 154). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.


Our Sufficient Jesus

Isn’t it amazing how Jesus constantly seemed to look through a different lens at life throughout the Gospels? For example, when the rich young ruler in Luke chapter 18 asked Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?”, Jesus responded, “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.” In John chapter 12 Jesus told His disciples, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. Again, when a man following Jesus said to Him in Matthew chapter 8, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father”, Jesus responded, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” All of these examples from the life of Jesus reveal that Jesus truly was looking through a different lens upon the issues of life than what the world looks through. The world looks through the lens that inflates the “value” of possessions, that gives justification for living life for “king self”, and that puts the “American Dream” ahead of the Great Commission. What can we learn from this drastic difference between the perspective of Jesus and the perspective of the world?

Jesus found His full satisfaction in His relationship with the Father. That relationship was completely sufficient to fulfill every need and passion that Jesus would pursue.

This concept is so difficult for many Christians and undoubtedly the world to grasp. In America, we are taught to pursue our dreams and to “be successful no matter what it takes”. The thing is, we often find that our dreams don’t have at their core a hard pursuit after the things of God. We often believe that our needs are sufficiently met through the worlds idea of satisfaction and happiness. However, to follow Jesus is to realize that He and He alone is fully sufficient for everything in our lives. Paul completely understood this. In one of the most often quoted passages in the book of Philippians chapter 4 verse 13, Paul said, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” We often take that verse to mean Christ will empower us to achieve whatever we set our minds to. However, the context of the passage reveals something very different. Paul was rejoicing, not in the fact that God had made him healthy and wealthy, but in the fact that God’s provision was sufficient in whatever circumstance he found himself in. Paul said in verse 12, “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound, In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Paul understood this incredibly important reality for a child of God:

No matter if we find ourselves having little or plenty, facing sunshine or storm, our satisfaction in the person of Jesus Christ is fully sufficient to sustain us.

Our relationship with Jesus is beyond satisfying. Jesus is life and He is life eternal for all that trust in Him for salvation. The “American Dream” at some point will come to an end but the “Everlasting Life” that is promised through Jesus never will!


The Incarnation: The Difference of Christmas!

What is it about Christmas that sets it apart from other holidays such as Memorial Day, Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Veterans Day? Perhaps the better question to ask in order to answer the first is what is it about Christianity that sets it apart from the other religions of the world? To many people around the world Christianity is simply thrown into the pile of “religion” and is viewed in the same light as Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, etc. However, the beauty of Christmas reveals to us an incredibly unique Truth that is central to Christianity. So……

What is it about Christianity that sets it apart from all other religions of the world?

The answer can be found in the first chapter of the Gospel of John. This chapter begins in John 1:1-3 ESV with the words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” In reading those words alone a person would possibly reason that Christianity carries no distinction from other belief systems of the world. The fact is, pretty much any religion that you can find has an eternal “being” that has existed from the beginning of time and is responsible for the plight of humanity and its creation. However, one only needs to read the Word of God down to verse 14 to understand that Christianity reveals a very incredible and distinct Truth from all other religions of the world. To explain, John 1:14 ESV says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” What an incredible declaration! The fact is…..

It is the Truth of the statement, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” that the hope of all humanity hinges upon!

Take a minute and allow the implications of this Truth to penetrate your mind. The eternal Word that spoke the world into existence; the One that was before time began through which all life had its origin took on humanity and became flesh! In fact, John gives testimony that he and the other disciples had seen His glory! How? Because the Word that was from the beginning had now come to earth and in accordance with the declaration of the angel of the LORD to Joseph He would be called Jesus! It would be Jesus that would reveal Himself to the disciples as the Messiah. It would be Jesus that would perform miracles that only God Himself could perform. It would be Jesus that would humbly submit His life to be sacrificially given on a Roman cross for the sins of men. It would be Jesus that would not allow the grave to hold Him but would conquer death and rule as LORD today. How is all of this possible? Because God took on flesh. This statement is huge for a world that cant save itself! If not for God becoming flesh and living the life of sinless perfection we could never live we would all be hopelessly dependent upon ourselves for salvation. But God Himself provided the solution to the problem of sin by taking on humanity! Romans 8:3-4 ESV says, “For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us.” God did the work that man could never do. This separates Christianity from all other religions. For example:

  • Buddhists believe that to reach Nirvana, a transcendental state of bliss, a person must follow the Noble Eightfold Path. This process of personal effort and discipline will end suffering for the individual.
  • Hindus believe that one reaches Moksha—freedom from this world and the cycle of death and reincarnation—by practicing self-sacrifice, meditation, and certain levels of self-realization.
  • Muslims believe that Allah grants Paradise to those who live a life of moral uprightness, using the Five Pillars as basic guidelines.

All of these beliefs point to a method of works salvation. However, the incarnation of Jesus reminds us that we are saved by the work of God alone. That is the difference of Christmas!