Lovewell: A Theology - Day 3

John 15:19
19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you.

Who do you belong to? Because the text above seems to indicate that if you are one who loves Jesus, then the world can’t be what you belong to. However, this also means that the world doesn’t really understand you either. In fact, it seems to indicate that the world will actually hate you, which is a strong word.

Now, I want to make sure we understand something at this point. When we talk about “the world” we need to be a bit more specific. It is not just unbelievers, or those who don’t think the same way that you do. But it is those who have not made love to be the highmark of what it means to be human. And, unfortunately, it means that there will be times that people within the church will hate you just as much as those outside of the church will hate you as well. To be hated by “the world” is to be hated and misunderstood by those who find other values ahead of those that we see espoused by Jesus.

For Jesus, love of God and love of a brother or sister are the full extent of the law. (Matthew 25, Romans 13, Galatians 5). These words of Jesus echoed by the words of the Apostle Paul show us clearly that love is the value that is most important to God, and we see this again and again in the life of Jesus. Those who chose piety over love, those who chose law over grace, those who continually choose perfection over charity, and those who choose ideology that excludes over love for one another that includes could be classified as “the world.”

The world is different from the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God values inclusivity, graciousness, compassion, love, and hope as the highest of all values. The world values position, purity (whether it is in race, nationality, social class, or even doctrinal purity), and possessions as the highest things to value. Of course those of us who have found love to be the measure of the law will be hated and will be seen as deep sinners to those who value something else.

Yep, that is right, they will see themselves as the saints, and you, who have chosen love, will be seen as sinners. It feels impossible for this to be true, but it is.

Why? Why would moving toward love be the thing that makes you a sinner rather than a saint?

Unfortunately, this happens when we begin to value other things, and love has a tendency to ignore station, forget possessions matter, to get dirty while showing compassion to others who are dirty as well. Love is not easy, love is not perfect, love is not clean, love does not hold one person above the other, rather it creates equity and justice for those who are oppressed, and it does not care if you are offended by it. Love perseveres. Love is not that which looks good on the outside, or looks just like you and your group, or me and my group. It is messy, ugly, unkempt and hard to manage.

Maybe that is why Jesus loved it so much. It looked a lot like his disciples, all of whom became deeply hated by “the world.”

So next time you are thinking that “the world” hates you, make sure you understand who the world is that you are making angry, and if it is because of love, then that is okay.

  1. Has the world ever hated you? 
  2. How can you show love even if you are being shunned or frustrated for it? 
  3. What does love look like in your life? 
  4. How can you give it more profoundly? 
  5. When you are giving love, does it ever make you uncomfortable? 
  6. What do you think Jesus felt as he was being hated by “the world?”
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Christian Creative - January 3rd, 2023 at 6:37am

6. When I imagine Jesus’ during some of the things He did to love better (inclusive, heal, gracious…), I sense Him smirk with satisfaction about pushing the boundaries and thinking - “Watch this.” I can imagine He possibly liked to get a reaction? It might have given Him more gumption and humor to keep going. However, I also see Him as sorrowful in moments too. I believe in each different scenario, He had a gamut of emotions around being hated by the world.

Timothy Gillespie - January 3rd, 2023 at 2:49pm

I would imagine that you are right. Jesus, being 100% human and 100% Divine would have felt all that we do and more!

Kandyce - January 16th, 2023 at 1:41pm

Are we too? With the Holy Spirit I mean? 100%human and 100%divine? Or??? Curious about this.

Martha - January 3rd, 2023 at 8:42am

If more of our SDA churches practiced this kind of love and inclusivity, we would not lose so many young people. I pray they can find a home at Crosswalk.

Timothy Gillespie - January 3rd, 2023 at 2:49pm

Absolutely Martha! Thanks for this.

Donny - January 3rd, 2023 at 10:15am

It’s hard for me to believe, but this seems to have happened to me over the last few years. Without even realizing it, I’ve prioritized other things than love, and moving to a new community has forced me to realize this. God help me as this new year I rediscover my first love again, and learn again to love well.

Timothy Gillespie - January 3rd, 2023 at 2:50pm

We will be praying for that with you Donny!

Doyle - January 3rd, 2023 at 10:16am

Seems as human beings we fear what we do not understand. Then that fear leads to hate in the end. We are told so many times to “fear not” and that perfect love casts out fear. Jesus, help us not to fear but to love more fully #lovewell

Timothy Gillespie - January 3rd, 2023 at 3:03pm

Thanks so much for this Doyle. Salient thoughts for sure.