The World Hates the Disciples
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours.
You may hear in some Christian circles, "He or she has become very worldly". This is not a sense in which someone has become a world traveler, but they have started to compromise some their Christian values for values the world espouses. In the world it is "get all you can while you can", "a little skim off the top won't hurt anyone, after all I work hard", or "everybody does it, it can't be that bad".
I remember when I went to college how hard it was to maintain my Christian values with all the partying etc. that goes on almost all campuses across the U.S. (even at Christian colleges). As Jesus says today, "If you belonged to the world it would love you as it's own, but I have chosen you out of the world." When Jesus came to the world he did not compromise his values as the Son of God. He even accused the religious leaders of being very worldly. After all, they liked the places of honor. And they loved telling people to obey God's laws, but didn't lift a finger to help them. They had fallen in love with the power of the world. In fact, they became so jealous of Jesus' following and so threatened of his indictment of them, they sought to kill him. And eventually they did.
I found when I became more serious about living out my Christian life, it wasn't all that easy. Standing up for Christian values is usually not easy, and can bring on some scorn and ridicule. At times I was very faithful to being a disciple, and at times I conformed to the world out of fear. Over the years I care less and less what people think of me, but that doesn't mean that being a disciple of Jesus today is any less easier.
So how does Jesus encourage us today to be the salt and light of the world? The phrase I latched on to today was, "But I have chosen you out of the world". More and more I realize that if God has chosen me, then he will empower me to do His will. Jesus says today a servant is not greater than his master. This means to be a follower Jesus, we are to be his servant. So when difficult choices come in our lives the question we should ask is, "who do I serve?" Am I serving Christ, or the world?
Where are you challenged to conform to the world, rather than being transformed into the image of Christ? It is my prayer that as we realize Jesus has chosen us out of the world to serve him, that we might be faithful in our calling. And we know He is with us and empowers us to carry this out through the Spirit He has given us. Amen.