Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 15:16a (Holman) “You did not choose Me, but I chose you.”
Jesus chooses. The friendship between Jesus and His followers is initiated by Him. “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
We may think we initiated our relationship with Jesus, but this is not true. He was seeking us long before we sought Him.
Rejoice in this fact. The stability of our friendship with Jesus is assured by the fact it begins in Him, not in us. His election of us, uncaused by anything worthwhile in sinners, is of grace, and therefore remains sure.
This must not become a source of pride. Be humble. Jesus called His followers friends, and we are, but His most devoted servants have also viewed themselves as His slaves, which we also are. Peter (1 Peter 1:1), James (1:1), and Paul (Romans 1:1) took this lowly self-designation.
We are His friends because He has shared His life with us. We are His slaves because He purchased us with His blood. Christ-followers enjoy privilege, but must never let it crowd duty out of our thoughts.
We embrace the title of friend, and appreciate the honor it gives, yet know our lowliness. The more honor Jesus puts on us, the more honor we should return to Him. The higher we become in His eyes, the lower we should be in our own.
John 15:16b “I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the father in My name, He will give you.”
Christ-followers are appointed, not to sit still, but to be ever diligent in producing fruit. Never rest on our laurels. Instead always strive to be increasing in holiness, and in multiplication, bringing the lost to Jesus.
We were redeemed, not to live a life secluded from the world. Knights came to the court of King Arthur, not to spend the rest of life in knightly feasting and fellowship, but to be sent on noble tasks of chivalry. Similarly, Jesus called us to Himself so He could send us out to produce fruit in the world.
John 15:17 “This is what I command you: love one another.”
Christ expects His friends to love each other. Friends of a friend should themselves be friends. We are poor friends unless we hold dear what our friends hold dear.
We treasure the lifeless objects, the trinkets and collectables, that belong to friends. If they love a treasured possession, we desire to protect it in their honor. We want to keep from hurting them.
Since we are careful to regard our friends’ lifeless treasures, how much more care should we show for their living treasures. People are crushed by hard feelings among their friends.
Jesus grieves when His children are ugly toward each other. When we hurt each other, we hurt Him.
If we truly love Jesus, we will be drawing closer to not only Him, but also to one another. As the spokes of a carriage wheel approach their center, they approach each other.
In any circle, the nearer the points come to the center, the closer they come to one another. One way we know we are drawing nearer to Jesus as the center of our lives is when we see ourselves being drawn toward each other.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you.”
“World” refers to society forming itself without reference to God. The worldly are people whose lives are not lived for Jesus.
“If” is a tender touch. Jesus was softening the blow of His prediction. Hatred will come, but at this moment the disciples were depressed enough.
For Christians who boldly and openly live their faith, opposition from the world is inevitable. Even upright unbelievers sometimes oppose Christ-followers. Since we share Christ’s life, we share in some measure His fate.
Don’t let persecution shake us. We are not the losers when people oppose us. Pity those who never ruffle anyone’s feathers. “Woe to you when all people speak well of you, because this is the way their ancestors used to treat the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). Earth’s favorites need our concern.
John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you.”
Our society has assimilated a measure of Christianity into itself. Jesus’ values permeate the conscience of our society in many areas. Hence, to us the world has often given the appearance of being tolerant.
At best, this facade is temporary, a passing mirage. Our culture accepts Christian values only to the extent it absolutely has to.
Martin Lloyd-Jones wisely said, if God-fearing people were not a voting-block to be reckoned with, government and society would at best be indifferent toward us. USA culture accepts only enough of Christian principles to pacify its large number of voting believers.
When the world, even at its best, is closely examined, below the surface, the same old prejudices are found – dislike of a righteous God, love for sin, pride, self-sufficiency. People haven’t changed. Jesus can still say, “the world hates you.”
USA Christians are not dipped in pitch and used for candles in the Emperor’s garden, but disdain still exists. Our society is more subtle: a scornful laugh, a celebration when believers fall, ostracizing those who truly serve Jesus.
This is not to say the world’s dislike of us is universal or all-inclusive. Certain bonds unite all people, Christians and non-Christians.
We share many common interests and needs. We care about our neighborhoods, making a living, providing our children a good education, patriotism, etc.
These similar habits and customs, though, are often a thin layer of plaster over deep cracks in the wall. Bad weather reveals the cracks are still there.
Thus we are with the world. When we go below the surface, and deal with real, deep, foundational principles of life, we go separate ways.
Believers and the world stand at opposite poles with regard to thoughts about a holy God, exclusivity of salvation in Jesus, human depravity, the purpose of life, moral standards, and life after death.
What believers regard as precious, the world often regards as of no account. What we view as truth, it passes by as unimportant. What we see as wrong, it often sees as right.
It is impossible for a person to live their life openly and boldly for Christ without treading on an unbeliever’s sensitive nerve somewhere along the way. If we walk the walk, and talk the talk, a split is inevitable between people who regard God as the ultimate necessity in life and people who regard God as optional.
The USA has produced strange bed-fellows. Our society has a dash of Christianity; our Christianity has a dose of society. Our part-Christian society and part-secularized church get along pretty well together.
The average USA Christian does not deserve antagonism from the world. Why rebuke silence and mediocrity?
The world has little need to waste its energy against us. The world dreads ho-hum Christianity like we dread wet noodles.
Society does not need to fret itself about a church which is actually only a bit of the world under another name. Unbelievers have no qualms about a Christian who is like them.
But when believers promote an unpopular belief for Christ’s sake; when they try hard to live like Jesus, to stay ahead of the world’s conscience, before long the world’s wolves are yelping at their heels.
The world dreads out-and-out Christians. God help us live in such a way that at least something in our lives deserves the hostility our text predicts. Jesus said, “The world hates you.” Does it?