“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. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me. They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’”
They say, home is where you hang your hat. Then again, where you live may not be where you’re from. Some people grow up where they were born and live right there all their lives. For them, that place must feel like home. Others, including myself, have lived all over and may never have a strong sense of belonging anywhere. Still, we long to fit in, to be rooted somewhere, to have a home where we are safe and loved. As followers of Jesus, we believe that this world is not our home. So, what place do we call home and where do we belong?
Jesus told his disciples we don’t belong to this world, and that truth will lead to problems for us. The closer we move toward Jesus, the further we drift from this world. As we embrace the values and truth that Jesus taught, we find that the world’s ideas no longer satisfy our hearts. We want more of Jesus and less of what this world offers. We don’t fit here anymore. We don’t play by the world’s rules anymore. Instead of pursuing selfish ambitions and lustful desires, we strive to love people the way Jesus did. Instead of falling neatly into political and social categories, we put the things of God ahead of earthly agendas. Those are sure-fire ways of being seen as different from the world, and we should expect to be criticized, marginalized and rejected. Jesus said this would happen to us just as it happened to him.
This is not our home, and we shouldn’t expect to feel welcome in the world. The good news is that we do have a home, and it will be far, far better than anything this world can offer. We belong to Jesus, and right now He is preparing a new and wonderful home for us in heaven. That hope keeps us going through the hardships of this life. But notice, Jesus didn’t tell us to abandon this world or cut ourselves off from people outside the church. We have a mission from Jesus that sends us into the world, into the lives of people who don’t yet know the Savior. Some will reject us or even persecute us, but others will hear the Good News and embrace Jesus just as we have. For their sake, we endure the world’s rejection, and we join with people of faith waiting and hoping for our true heavenly home.
Thank You, Father, for the promise of eternal life in Your glorious presence. Give me strength to stand strong in the face of criticism and rejection. Fill me with Your Spirit so I can help share the love and message of Jesus with those in need. I pray in His name. Amen.
Pastor Mike Mirakian