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Hope in Tough Times

Hate is a tough word.  It’s one that is often used as a weapon in arguments- between friends, from a child to a parent, from one spouse to another.  If you’ve had it verbally thrown at you by someone, you know its powerful enough to knock the wind out of your lungs.



 


In John 15.18-25, Jesus tells His disciples that some in the world will hate them.  Jesus’ betrayal(s), arrest, trial, torture, resurrection and burial loom heavily in the future.  He knows the disciples will be persecuted, abused and even killed in the future.  


Taken by itself, this passage is pretty bleak, but if we read it in the greater context of Jesus’ “true vine” discussion, there is a message of hope behind the troubles He is talking about.  


If the world hates (or even “loves less”) the disciples, it is because it hated and persecuted Jesus first (v 18 & 20).  Being lumped in with Jesus is good company, regardless of the circumstance.  Jesus was letting the disciples know that if they shared Jesus’s values and followed His teachings, it WOULD often conflict with the world’s values (v 19).  The rejection and abuse are explicitly tied to the disciple’s connection to Jesus (v 21).  These folks heard Jesus’ teachings, had the ability to see how He fulfilled the promises of Scripture, saw His miracles and still hated Him (15.22f).  Their hearts and minds were so clouded that they hated God (v 23).


But Jesus knew the doubt and fear the disciples would face.  We often think of Jesus as the risen Savior and Son of God, and rightfully so, but we often forget His humanity.  He felt the things the disciples were going to feel.  So He left them with hope.  Jesus tells them is that even if the world hates them, God’s Messianic plan is being fulfilled (v 25).  He reminds them that He, the Messiah, has selected them “…I have chosen you out of the world” (v 19).  When we look at the rest of the chapter we see Him telling them that He loves them (v 9), they will experience His joy (v 11), He calls them His friends (v 15), God will answer their prayers and the fruit they bear will be eternal (v 16).


I get frustrated, anxious and even depressed sometimes when I think about things that are going on in the world.  At times it feels like there a huge groups of people, who when they see something good, pure, honest, etc., they will do literally anything to tear it apart.  It feels like people reject anything good and celebrate the most negative aspects of human nature.  It feels like there is just so much hate floating around.  


But as Christians, we need to focus on a Savior who is the exact opposite.  Jesus loved us so much that He offered Himself as a sacrifice for us.  We need to remember that God will listen and respond to our prayers.  We need to remember that He has a plan for our lives and that we can experience true joy, both temporal and eternal, if we just remain in Him.  And that should give us so much hope in the midst of trouble.  Finally, I hope all of us at FCC Grayson remember what Jesus commanded the disciples earlier in the “True Vine” teaching- “My command is this: Love one another as I have loved you.” (v 12).  Jesus loved us enough to lay down His life for us.  


That’s a tall order, and if we are being honest, one that would be difficult to follow outside of our children, parents, grandkids, spouse, etc.  But the essence of that love is a selfless caring for one another.  We live in a world filled with hate and filled with sin.  We are all going to sin and stumble.  But if we can just keep loving one another and just keep loving God and following Jesus, we are going to make.  


We hope you are having a wonderful week, and if the world is beating you up this week, or things are seeming bleak, please reach out to us.  The staff at FCC Grayson love you and are here for you.  And please never forget that God loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you, and Jesus loved you so much He willingly died for you.


- David Deborde: FCC Men’s Ministry

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