This Sunday at St. Paul’s Church, Nobleton, I’m going to talk about hate. It’s a pertinent subject, since there’s a lot of it going around these days – but not all of it gets publicized in the same way.
Jesus tells his disciples the blatant truth in John 15.18-19 (NLT): “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.”
That seems like pretty bad news. How do we survive, let alone thrive, in a society where we are surrounded by hate? (You’ll have to stay tuned for the answer to that. You can join us at 10:00 a.m. for worship on Sunday, or tune in to our live-stream on Facebook, or later on YouTube or on the church website.) Hatred toward followers of Jesus is not widely talked about, perhaps because the church has been a dominant force in society for so long…but it isn’t anymore.
But the good news is that there is help. We aren’t consigned to live the Christian life alone. We have the Holy Spirit, and each other. Each is important!
The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Trinity, given to us by the Father and the Son to live in and through us when we come to him in faith. Living the Christian life without the Holy Spirit is like trying to breathe without oxygen: it can’t be done. The Holy Spirit is our Helper, our Advocate in the midst of the hate the world offers.
There are a lot of “one another” phrases in the New Testament, and these underscore how important Christian community is. We need each other if we are going to make a difference in a world of adversity. We need each other in both a macro and a micro sense, sharing corporate worship as well as a deeper intimacy with the Lord and each other through small groups.
The world will hate us for following Jesus, because it hates Jesus. But the good news is that the church of Jesus has been historically proven to thrive under persecution. Think of the Christians in China, forced underground to continue their devotion to the Lord. Imagine how much community means to them! Imagine how much they rely on the Holy Spirit!
We don’t know much about persecution here in the west…yet. But we can be ready for it by relying on the Holy Spirit and each other.
See you on Sunday.