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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Jesus: Not a Motivational Speaker

Have you ever thought about what a poor motivational speaker Jesus would be? In a world that wants to feel good and get pumped up, Jesus would get booed out of many auditoriums.

Consider the evidence of John 15. Jesus is mere moments away from being arrested and later killed on a cross. He has a few hours left with his followers to prepare them for this coming trial. Maybe these guys were expecting some encouraging words (you can do it!), but Jesus takes a different approach. Instead of feeding them sugar candy, he goes for some meaty stuff:
-"If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first."
-"Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you."
-"If they had listened to me, they would listen to you." (Implied: but they didn't and they won't)
-"You will be expelled from synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God."

If I'm in this crowd, I'm thinking to myself, "Thanks Jesus- those are just the words of hope I need right now!"

Yet Jesus had a very specific purpose in bringing up these dire warnings: "I'm telling you these things now so that when they happen, you will remember my warning." In other words, Jesus tells them about all of this ahead of time, so that when it happens, they won't be surprised. They will understand this is part of the cost. They will know that this is all part of the deal. Jesus wanted them to accept that being a partner with him in testifying to the world meant they would also be partners with him in suffering.

I have been pondering lately how little I suffer for my faith. Jesus seems to say in this passage that pain and hurt WILL BE directed from the world towards those who follow him- towards those who understand his radical call to not be of this world. I know we live in a much friendlier and "politically correct" society than these disciples, but I can't help but think that my complete lack of suffering MAY have something to do with me, and not just my culture. I'm wondering if I take seriously enough Jesus' call to join him in proclaiming the truth and actually living like I'm from another world. I'm not saying I want to become a crazy person, but I do want to be more like Jesus. And being more like Jesus just might mean that my actions result in hate and rejection from the world, because that's exactly what happened to Jesus.

"The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of this world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you."

On your journey, may you be okay with a world that hates you if it means being more like Jesus-


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