“But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”
John 15. Such a wonderful chapter of Scripture. Filled with pictures of Christ as the vine, God as the caretaker, believers as the branches that bear the fruit. It explains so much! Helps us understand the power and absolute necessity of abiding in Christ, allowing His word to have a home in our hearts, and the power that results from that kind of submission to Jesus. In verse 5 we’re reminded that we’re unable to do anything without Christ, huge paradigm shift there! We’re warned in verse 6, given an incredible promise in verse 7, given beautiful truths about fruit and God’s love, His commandments, and His desire for our fulness of joy in 8-11. Then some of my favorites, in 12-16 we’re actually told what Christ’s command is, the command we’re supposed to be keeping, and then we find out we’re His friends, we see how we’ve been chosen by Him, and in verse 17 He reminds us once more of His ultimate command, that we love one another. Sigh….yup…it is such a good chapter.
…….Oh wait…..it keeps going!
“If the world hate you..” Wait what? Good feeling gone! What is this all about? These next 9 verses take a drastic turn that doesn’t bode well for believers (especially if you keep reading into chapter 16!)
These next verses go on to tell us about the hatred of the world, and the persecution we’ll go through.
And then Jesus tells His disciples in verse 21: “But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”
We as Christians in America often have trouble comprehending this verse, because honestly, we don’t know very much about persecution, and to be a little harsh and pretty blunt, we also don’t know much about living for Christ’s name’s sake. But what Jesus is telling us, is that persecution and hatred, suffering and opposition are real and inevitable parts of belonging to Him and genuinely shining His light.
I can spend our time here trying to prep us for persecution, but I think there are a few other directions it might be fun to explore, so here we go.
The truth is, there will always be those who will resist the person of God. They’ll refuse Him, reject His love, turn away from His forgiveness, and as His messengers, we’ll get the brunt of their anger, bitterness, and rage. But something we must guard against, is falling into the trap of seeing every lost person as hardened and hateful and against us. It causes us to pull away and forget our very purpose for being here on earth! When Christ abides in us and we abide in Him, we bear fruit, much fruit! We often think that fruit is souls, maybe it is! I also think it could simply be the fruit of the Spirit.
When we abide in Christ, love grows on us, peace and joy are hanging off us, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, are there for everyone around us to taste, self-control or submission to the Spirit, is keeping us from things that hurt others or damage our testimony in front of them. That is living for Christ’s name sake. Living according to what pleases Him and correctly represents who He is. And we will suffer for it. When we abide in Christ, we will be persecuted, we will be hated, but never forget that sometimes those very persecutors are longing for a taste of the fruit that comes from our relationship with Jesus.
Now, to veer off a little, let’s look at the why. Why will they do all these things? Why do we have to suffer? Vs 21 says “But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me.”
Because they don’t know Him. Here the word know is Oida (Strongs 1492 in case you’re into that. ) It means: to perceive with the eyes, to perceive by any of the senses, notice, discern, discover, pay attention to, inspect or examine, to experience any state or condition etc.
As I said before, there will always be those who don’t WANT to know Him. They are willingly ignorant as Peter says in 2 Peter 3:5, they want nothing to do with Him.
But there are so many, who don’t know, because they’ve not heard or seen or understood, and that’s where we are given the chance of a lifetime!
In the Word, we’re called God’s witnesses right? Jesus says in Acts 1:8 that we’ll be His witnesses. Well what’s a witness? Someone who tells something they’ve seen, heard or experienced, that you usually haven’t.
So if we’re persecuted because they don’t know God, haven’t seen Him, experienced Him or discovered Him, then that should make us stop and think about our own lives. Do they not see God in my life? Are they able to perceive what God is like by being around me? Do they know what His love looks like because of the way I live? Do they get a picture of what His forgiveness looks like by the way I extend it even when it’s unbelievably hard? Do they see the power of almighty God by the victory, confidence and grace I live out every day?
This is our purpose team! To abide and bear fruit that the world sees, making manifest to them the nature and character of God, whether they hear, or whether they forbear isn’t on us, we just want them to see the real deal.
And at this moment what I’d be thinking is, “Here we go again, same old guilt trip about how we’re bad testimonies and need to do better in order to witness to people more.”
I guess it does sound like that doesn’t it? But that’s not where I’m coming from. A cool thing about fruit, you can’t force its growth, it happens naturally. I’m writing this without knowing what people have written on the other verses, but I’m pretty sure someone has touched on the fact that the fruit is a result of abiding, you couldn’t hinder it if you wanted to as long as you’re looking at Jesus and in awe of how good He is to you.
Living with Jesus, talking to Him, remembering the ways that He’s been faithful, living in faith that He’ll be faithful again, this is abiding. Knowing Him through His Word, just resting in who He is, what He’s done, and letting Him love us. And the result of that, is love, and joy, peace that passes understanding, patience for even the most difficult people, kindness and gentleness that the world will marvel at, faithfulness, and self-control. Who knows, if they see it, maybe they’ll want to know Him!
The truth is, that sometimes we as Christians get into victim syndrome: “Everyone is out to get us! They’re making laws against us, trying to steal our freedom, trying to take our rights away! We need to fight against the corruption!!” Standing for truth in the public arena is needed and powerful. But we can never forget that it’s just the way of things. We WILL be persecuted, and Jesus command to us was to love, and make disciples, not to protect ourselves, preserve our rights and have anger and indignation toward the lost people who are doing what all lost people do…act lost.
They don’t see, they don’t know. Our calling is to show them, to make God known by our lives and our words. They’re not our enemy, they’re the rescue mission. Often in our attempt to protect righteous standards, laws and ways of living, we misrepresent God as only caring about lost people doing what is right, when God’s heart is that His kindness, seen through the lives of His image bearers (Yes, that means you and me), will lead them to repentance, and once they have surrendered to Him, then He will begin to change them into the image of His Son.
So whenever you face opposition because you love God and want Him to be seen and known, remember, for those who will not be swayed to Christ, endure with love, because even our “enemies” are given the opportunity to see.
And in general show off God’s nature and character with compassion.
And in case I haven’t repeated myself enough, the power to live through even the worst persecution comes through abiding in the living, loving, mighty person of Jesus.
It makes for an awesome life!