Today’s Reading: John 15:18-19 (NIV)
18 [Jesus said,] “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 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.”
I remember the first time someone told me they hated me. Someone in the lunch room didn’t want me to sit next to them. The words rolled off her tongue effortlessly and everyone laughed; thinking it was entertaining to watch me cry. I’m not exactly sure what I did to deserve the hate word – I imagine it had something to do with how I was dressed. You see, many of the girls I went to school with wore blue jeans, crop tops and floppy sandals. My mother insisted I wear dresses and tennis shoes. I didn’t look like them or fit in. The children liked to play hard and they were rough on the playground. I could run just as fast as they could, but hard and rough were not a part of how I was built. We choose to use the hate word when we really don’t want to know or understand someone who may look or act differently from us. Do you think it is easier to hate someone rather than try to find some common ground?
People have practiced hatred since the beginning of time. The color of your skin could launch a world war. Can you change the color of your skin to suit the personal preferences of others? Many have tried to do this through cosmetic surgeries, chemical peels, and tanning beds. Does the color of your skin change who you are on the inside? Would you be more acceptable in the culture where you live if you were fairer, darker, or maybe purple? Purple people eaters were popular where I grew up. Why do people hate each other based upon the color of someone’s skin?
Have you ever wondered what it might be like today if Jesus had chosen to hate the world? We are certainly different from Him. Christ was fully human yet fully divine. It is no wonder He was scorned, ridiculed and judged. He was unique and everyone knew it. Some hated Him, others were jealous, and many wanted Him dead and gone. There is not a human heart alive in the world today who does not struggle with sin. Maybe you have a bad attitude or an addiction to overcome. You may suffer from jealousy or pride. Are you lazy, moody, or hormonal? Isn’t that the catch phrase we sometimes use to excuse our behavior when we have a bad day? What if Jesus had chosen to hate us because we were sinners? What if He said, “Forget it, Dad. I’m not laying down my life for this worthless bunch. They will never change; this is one big, hopeless situation!”
Without the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, humanity would be forever lost and separated from a perfect and holy Father. Even when the world chose to hate Him, Jesus Christ willingly loved. His love melted hearts, bridged the gap to heaven, and brought sinful man into fellowship with a sinless Father. Hate is conquered once and for all on the cross of Calvary.
We are called to turn from the popular world view and choose to love like Jesus. Will you take the harder road and choose to love today?
Grace and peace,
Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO
© Copyright 2008, Deb Spaulding
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