Day 54: John 15:18-16:4

While on earth, Jesus bore the brunt of the world’s hate and opposition.  As the cross neared, He knew that the world’s hostility would fall on His disciples after He was gone.   Where His message of unity with Him was previously one of encouragement, he now warns them that unity with Him will certainly bring opposition—“the world hates you.”  The ‘world’ means unbelievers, fallen humanity, and the system of life where people seek satisfaction apart from God.  Jesus warns the believer to expect persecution from the world.

As believers mature in Christ-like character and disciple-making influence, it becomes increasingly clear to them and those around them that a Christian life is not completely compatible with the world.  God, through believers, “spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him.  For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life.” (2 Corinthians 2:14-16)  In other words, to those who reject Jesus, we are offensive.  Our persecutors smell the stink of death and condemnation when they see Christ in us.

Although we may feel unable to respond to the world’s hostility toward Christ and us, the Holy Spirit in us commands and empowers us to answer effectively.  In these moments of conflict, we can be confident that the Lord will bless our time in Bible study and prayer.  Jesus promised, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” (John14:26) In Acts and in the disciple’s New Testament writing, we see this promise fulfilled.  “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.” (Acts 4:31)  We can be confident that with the Holy Spirit’s power, we also can speak the word of God boldly.

Ask yourself:  What about your life makes others know you are different from the world because of Jesus?

What are ways that you have conformed to the world and lessened the effectiveness of your witness to Christ?

What will you do to change that?

When you perceive opposition, ask yourself:  Is this persecution because I am being like Christ? Or is this happening because I am being unlike Christ?

Prayer:  Lord God, empower me to speak the word of God boldly no matter my circumstances.