Lately I’ve heard a bunch of complaining from Christians because they are not respected in this world. Some say they are hated and persecuted for their beliefs. John says, “Duh! What else is new?”
John knew that Jesus saw people in two groups: those heading for eternal life and those heading for death. There was no middle ground. Here is an example:
But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be,a you will indeed die in your sins.” (John 8:23-24)
In this life we think we are making progress if we are going faster. But it doesn’t matter how well you are doing if you are heading the wrong direction, away from life and toward death. The turning point comes when we believe in Who Jesus claimed to be (God).
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
Jesus moves us from death to life because He gives us the Holy Spirit, connecting us eternally with the life of God. Our human bodies die. When given the life of the Spirit, our souls live forever. Jesus said,
The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. (John 6:63)
The thief (Satan, the ruler of “the world”) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10 – my added parenthetical notes)
When we believe, Jesus turns us away from death and toward life. Our citizenship, our place of belonging, is transferred from “this world” to God’s family and His Kingdom. Those who have the Spirit, take their cues and motivations from the Spirit. Those who do not have the Spirit, take their cues and motivations from the ways of the world. These two groups are moving in opposite directions and see things from two opposing viewpoints. That is why John writes:
Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. (1 John 3:13-14)
The “world” hates those who believe in Jesus? Really? That is what Jesus taught:
“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. (John 15:18-19)
Gang members know, if they ever leave the gang to pursue a different lifestyle, with different rules and a different way of seeing the world, the rest of the gang will hate them. May even try to kill them. That’s what happens when you leave the gang of “the world” to follow Jesus. No point complaining about it; it’s just the way it is.