We live in a post-Christian culture. The utopian concepts of diversity and coexistence are presented as the new normal. However, Christianity is under attack in every arena of life. This is nothing new. Jesus and his first followers operated in a pre-Christian culture.
Jesus promises opposition because people in sin do not like the truth
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first.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. (John 15:18-19)
He prayed for our protection
9 “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. 10 All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. 11 Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name;* now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. 12 During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold. 13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy.14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one.16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do. (John 17:9-15)
Jesus offers life, strength and protection for the faithful in the face of certain hostility
“Here is my task for you, at its ugliest and worst, do you accept the assignment?
(v.16-23) The promise of trouble for those who are faithful
16 “Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. 17 But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. 18 You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. 19 When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. 20 For it is not you who will be speaking—it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. 22 And all nations will hate you because you are my followers.* But everyone who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man* will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel.
(v.16-17) Opposition from religious people
(v.18a) Opposition by the government
(v.18b-20) Opposition presents opportunity
(v.21) Opposition from family
(v.22a) General hatred and opposition
(v.22b) God’s promise of reward for perseverance
(v.23) Don’t let opposition stop you from sharing God’s truth
(v.24-25) To share the glory of Christ, we must share the warfare and agony he endured
24 “Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master.25 Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names!
(v.26-31) True Christianity is deliberately designed to oppose sin and all outlets of sin
26 “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. 27 What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear! 28 “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. 30 And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.
(v.26-27) Do not be afraid, truth will be exposed
(v.28-31) Do not be afraid – trust in God
(v.32-33) Loyalty and reward
32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.
(v.34-39) Serving Christ brings division in our most intimate relationships
34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. 35 ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ 37 “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine.38 If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.39 If you cling to your life, you will lose it ; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.
(v.34-37) Family becomes involved in spiritual warfare
(v.38-39) We must fight our own passions and desires
(v.39b) Complete surrender to Christ offers the adventure of realizing true life
When Christianity costs us something, we have true fellowship with Christ
Only as we struggle do we experience victory through the power of his resurrection.