I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “love-hate relationship” before. Sometimes we have things that we both love and hate; for example working out. We may not love it while we’re doing it, but we enjoy afterward. There may be things that we love to hate; for example the wind or Dallas Cowboys. But sometimes there is a love that creates hate. In John 15, we see how a love of God leads to a hatred from the world. We are to love one another, knowing we will be hated by the world, but helped by the Holy Spirit.
1. The Command of Love: v.12-17
Jesus begins by issuing a command to love one another. Further, we are to love one another in the same manner that Jesus has loved us. Our love for one another should be among other things, unconditional, sacrificial and righteous. What’s freeing for us is that God is the one who enables us to love others, even difficult people! What a great reminder for us today! Secondly, we see that we’re friends of God. It’s shocking that Jesus refers to the disciples, and by extension us as His friends. But this truth should give us confidence in Jesus’ love and affection for us. He is the one proactively calling us His friend. This friendship with God impacts and influences how we look at others. The confidence and security of being Jesus’ friend enables us to be good friends to those that God has placed in our lives. Third, we see in this command of love that we’re sent by God. Jesus does this with the intent of us making the gospel known. Loved one, will you embrace this role, even in the midst of the chaos of life: you are sent by God to make Him known.
2. The Reality of Being Hated: v.18-25
In sharp contrast to the love that Jesus commands of us in verses 12-17, we see the reality of hatred that comes with following Jesus. To be clear, if you’re going to follow Jesus you will be hated! Notice that this begins with a hatred of Jesus in v.18. The world (and here it would seem that John has the world system, to include people) hates Jesus. We can get lulled into thinking that most people love God but they’re just confused about Him, when in reality, they don’t. Given that the world is opposed to and hates Jesus, we see that we will suffer for our love of Jesus. We have to think rightly about this. When we assume that following Jesus will make life easy, when it inevitably is hard, we can become disillusioned by it all. It’s a lie from the pit of hell that suggests that following Jesus makes life easy. It doesn’t make it easy, but it makes it worthwhile, hope-filled and glorious! But given this, we have to understand what suffering brings with it. It will bring loss, it may bring slander, it may demand that we are held to a higher standard and it will bring rejection. But rest assured, because the world will be held accountable. Truth be told, we too should be held accountable, but the glory of the gospel is that Jesus has taken our place. He is paid the price for our sin so that we could be restored to God.
Let me just give this word of caution and exhortation – The potential for and reality of being hated cannot serve to function in a way that will silence the people of God. Loved one, if anything the reality of being hated should move us to a place of being more vocal, not less about the gospel. Are you willing to make clear the gospel to those that need it? Are you willing to be hated if that’s what it takes? Can you come to grips with the fact that you will be hated? These are questions we have to be willing to work through.
3. The Witness of the Helper: v.26-27
Next week, we are going to see more on the Spirit, but this word from Jesus is helpful in remembering that we handle the pressures of being hated by and through the help of the helper.
Church, as we continue to navigate this strange season, let us do so with gospel confidence and the stability that comes in the person of Jesus. Let us choose to love one another. Let us understand the reality that will suffer and be hated for following Jesus. Let us follow the lead of the Helper.