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Why the World Hates Jesus of Nazareth (7 of 7)

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  Jesus, Jn. 15:18

In the previous installment, I made the case that Jesus was both loving and intolerant. Jesus regularly made truth-claims (theological, philosophical, moral, etc.). These exclusive claims naturally placed competing worldviews outside the realm of divinely revealed truth (Jn 14:6).

I also stated that Jesus saw certain thoughts, actions, and behaviors as sinful. His response was to love sinners out of their sinful bondage.

God’s love operates out of truth, not despite the truth.

You can’t have real love without an objective standard of truth by which love operates. There is no love without truth. And there is no truth without love. They are inseparable. Jesus ministered with this mindset.

I began this blog series by laying out seven provocative statements that would serve to summarize the radical life and teachings of Jesus. My desire has been that the follower of Christ would rethink what it means to be a disciple, and that the skeptic would open up their heart and mind to the beauty of the Kingdom of God that Jesus displayed in his life and ministry.

In this final installment, I will bring together all of the material covered in this seven-part series, and show how the many pieces form a cohesive portrait of a new humanity revealed in Jesus of Nazareth.

 7. Jesus Revealed the New Way to be Human

Jesus was (and is) the only begotten Son of God. He was sent from the Father to show the world the truth about God, to save us from our sins, and to reveal the Father’s will for all of creation (Jn 3:16; 6:38; Col 1:15; Heb 1:3).

“For I have come down from heaven to do the will of God who sent me, not to do my own will.” Jesus, John 6:38 NLT

The will of God for Jesus was first and foremost to live perpetually by the Father’s divine LIFE (Jn 10:38; 14:10-12). Everything we see from Jesus on the earth is what it looks like when God reigns in a human being.

According to Jesus, if you want to be fully human you will…

  • Love God with heart, mind, soul, and strength (Mk 12:29-31);
  • Love your neighbor and enemy (Matt 5:38-48; Jn 13:34-35);
  • Do unto others what you’d have them do unto you (Matt 7:12);
  • Uphold justice, mercy, and faithfulness (Matt 5:7; Lk 11:42);
  • Abhor physical violence (Matt 5:39; 26:52);
  • Be peacemakers in the world (Matt 5:9);
  • Freely forgive and not judge others (Matt 18:21-22; Lk 6:37);
  • Bless the poor and needy, visit prisoners (Lk 6:20; Matt 25:36);
  • Practice true righteousness (Matt 5:6; 6:1-4);
  • Heal the sick and drive out demons (Matt 10:8);
  • Seek unity and reconciliation (Matt 18:15-20; Jn 17:20-23);
  • Pray “Thy Kingdom come” in everything (Matt 6:5-13);
  • Not worry about life and material stuff (Matt 6:25);
  • Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matt 6:33).

Jesus revealed the new way to be human. This radical new life, in the face of the old world system, eventually led to his death on the cross. But God vindicated the life and ministry of Jesus by raising him from the dead.

“For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.” Paul, Romans 6:4 NLT

Jesus was the firstborn of God’s new creation (Rom 8:29). He is the beginning of a new humanity. For he calls out to the world to be reborn.

“Christ is the Son of God. If we share in this kind of life we also shall be sons of God. We shall love the Father as He does and the Holy Spirit will arise in us. He came to this world and became a man in order to spread to other men the kind of life He has — by what I call “good infection.” Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”  C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Herein lies the greatest threat the Kingdom revolution poses to the world.

By the power of the Holy Spirit, Christ continues to further the Kingdom, amidst the forces of darkness in this fallen world, through his called-out community of faithful followers, known as the ekkelsia (church).

“His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Paul, Ephesians 3:10-11 NIV

The mission of Messiah Jesus was to do the will of the Father in bringing about God’s good purposes for creation—right in the middle of this present evil age! The resurrection of Jesus is evidence of God’s future breaking into our present. God’s new world was launched in Christ.

Jesus brought Israel’s story to her climax, and now he is reigning through the church. In order to follow Jesus, you must give up on the world system and commit to God’s Kingdom revolution at work through the church.

You have to leave the old world and the old life behind.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.” Jesus, Mark 8:35 NIV

Our hope in Christ is that he will return in the future to consummate heaven and earth. In the meantime, his followers are called to further the Kingdom by the power of the Spirit, and increase the new humanity upon the earth.

Listen to the invitation that Jesus has extended to us:

“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Jesus, Matthew 16:24 NIV

Will you follow him?

If the world hates you for following Jesus, remember that it hated him first.

You’re not alone. There is a growing Kingdom revolution that can’t be stopped, not even by death itself. For Christ has overcome the world.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus, John 16:33 NIV

Viva La Revolution!

D.D. Flowers, 2013.

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Why the World Hates Jesus of Nazareth (1 of 7)

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  Jesus, Jn. 15:18

Introduction

Why would anyone actually hate Jesus? It’s much more understandable that people might have an extreme dislike for Christians, being that many professing believers don’t take the teachings of Jesus very seriously.

But hate Jesus?

It’s no secret that many skeptics and critics of Christianity would agree with Ghandi, the Hindu guru who admired Jesus for his call to non-violent resistance. Ghandi said, “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ.”

I will be the first to empathize with this sort of repugnant response from non-believers against the Christian faith. It’s disheartening to know that many Christians have outright rejected the teachings of Jesus—either largely due to ignorance or extensive efforts to do some manner of hermeneutical gymnastics around the biblical text.

Regardless of the reason, there is simply no excuse for it. If you’re an atheist or skeptic reading this, I’m sorry that some Christians make it difficult for you to see the image and will of God fully expressed in the person of Jesus. I’m sorry when and where I have failed you.

Truthfully, even authentic followers of Jesus will fail to live up to Christ’s example. Therefore, if you are a skeptic, I would say there are Christians that accept all of the teachings of Jesus and are presently on a journey of faith with the intent to see Christ’s life manifested through them by the power of his Spirit. There are real disciples—true learners.

Now let me say that I don’t think that misguided Christians should be the basis by which a person makes a judgment about Jesus Christ of Nazareth. As he said to those in his own day who were trying to make up their mind about him, Jesus says to all of us today:

“Who do you say that I am?”

Who was Jesus? What did he teach? What did he believe about himself? What did he accomplish in his short ministry? And what does it have to do with me? If we will approach the Gospels in all sincerity and with an open heart, I believe we may encounter Christ for ourselves.

So what is it that Jesus had in mind when he said that the world would hate his followers because it first hated him? Well, rest assured that it’s not for being hypocritical, or for purposely being self-righteous jerks.

Jesus said, “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” (Jn. 15:19).

What then does it mean to “not belong” to this present world system? For that is indeed what Jesus has in mind. He is not promoting some sort of Gnostic escapism. His kingdom is not of this world, but it is for this world.

As God intends to bring heaven to earth, how has Christ called us to live in this world that lovers of the world would hate us for it?

That’s what this series of posts will address.

I intend to argue that we must take Jesus at his word or do away with him entirely. As Dietrich Bonhoeffer has written, “There are only two ways possible of encountering Jesus: man must die or he must put Jesus to death.” In other words, you must lose your life if you wish to save it.

In an attempt to clarify the gospel message for Christians and skeptics alike, I have chosen seven primary reasons for why the political and religious leaders in the first century hated Jesus and had him put to death. And of course why the world system still hates Jesus of Nazareth today.

I will briefly expound on each of these in the next six posts:

  1. Jesus proclaimed the kingdom of God.

  2. Jesus was not patriotic.

  3. Jesus was not religious.

  4. Jesus rejected materialism.

  5. Jesus challenged worldly wisdom.

  6. Jesus was loving and intolerant.

  7. Jesus revealed the new way to be human.

This is not an exhaustive list. I have simply decided to use these seven provocative statements to summarize the radical life and teachings of Jesus.

This summary will help us to stare long and hard at the most controversial man in all of human history, and to rethink what we thought we knew about the radical Jewish Messiah from Nazareth.

It’s my hope that Christians will consider if they have fully accepted the teachings of Jesus regarding the gospel of the kingdom of God, and if they are intentional in being obedient to Christ’s commands.

If you are a skeptic, it’s my prayer that you will open your heart to the historical Jesus in the Gospels of the New Testament—that you might know him as being alive today and doing something about evil.

In my next post, I’ll begin by expounding on the first two reasons together, since they are related. For the remaining five, I will address each of them individually. I intend to keep them succinct as possible for easier reading.

1. Jesus Proclaimed the Kingdom of God and 2. Jesus Was Not Patriotic.

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


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