Saturday, June 2Scripture Reading—John 15:18-20, 26-27
Idon’t like this passage of Scripture very much, and maybe you don’t either. If you’re like me, you hope that following Christ will be for you a source of joy and peace. Following Christ means you have someone who will help you carry life’s burdens, shoulder heavy loads like stress, disappointment, failure, and grief. Following Christ means that you can face even death with courage. All these things are indeed blessings that come to us as we walk with Christ. But Jesus told his disciples that because they did not belong to the world, the world would not love them. Rather, the world would hate them. But wait, didn’t Jesus say elsewhere in this gospel (John 3:16) that God loved the world? He did indeed say that. But for John the “world” is the realm of opposition to God’s purposes. To align ourselves with God as we have come to know God in Christ, is to set ourselves against all those forces that rebel against God. We know those forces well—greed, selfishness, cruelty, injustice, violence, exploitation—the list is long. But John was right in chapter 3—in spite of all the forms of rebellion against God we can name, God still loves this world! And Jesus calls us not just to follow him to receive all the blessings he offers, but to stand with him in the world, to speak for him in the world, and to suffer if that should be the cost. But we are not alone. For when we take the risk of being faithful rather than lukewarm disciples, the Holy Spirit will empower us and give us courage we never knew we had. I don’t like this passage of Scripture very much because it’s one of Jesus’ hard sayings, but I’d very much like to be part of a church that is helping me to become the kind of disciple Jesus says he’s looking for!
Thought for the day: Following Jesus Christ means we not only receive many blessings, but that we also accept God’s call to stand with Christ against those forces that resist God’s transforming power in the world.