Jesus once turned to some of His earthly relatives and said, “The world cannot hate you” (John 7:7).
With these words, Jesus gives us the litmus test of a true church and a true disciple. I wonder how many churches and Christians these words could be spoken of today: “The world cannot hate you.”
Christ is saying, in essence, “You have so brought the world into the church—you’ve so diluted My gospel—that the world embraces you. You’ve become a friend to the world.” James gives us this warning in his epistle: “The friendship of the world is enmity with God . . . whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God” (James 4:4).
Of course, Jesus was a friend to politicians and sinners. But it is also written that He was “separate from sinners” (Hebrews 7:26). He ministered to sinners, yet as one under submission to His Father. Like Him, we are called to be in the world, but not of it.
“Remember the word that I said unto you. . . . If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20). You don’t have to look for persecution. It won’t come because of your job performance, or your race, or your appearance. No, it will come simply because you make Christ your Lord.
Now let me give you a word of encouragement. Even though the world hates and persecutes Christ’s true disciples, we find a growing love and godly affection among the members of His Church. Indeed, that which causes the world to hate us causes our righteous brothers and sisters to embrace us all the more.
In the days ahead, the love in God’s house is going to become more precious. We’ll be hated by the whole world, mocked by the media, ridiculed by Hollywood, made a laughingstock by society. But when we come into God’s house, we’ll be entering a place of incredible love as we love one another as Christ loves us.
It won’t matter what persecution we’ve faced. We’ll be received with these words: “Welcome home, brother; welcome home, sister. Here is where you’re loved.” We’ll be built back up, to continue going out as our Lord commands us, with His true gospel.