John 7: Don’t Be Afraid To Be Distinctive
Today’s Bible reading is John 7 and in it, Jesus has some strong words about “the world.” In talking with his brothers, Jesus said:
“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” (John 7:7)
The world hates me. That’s a strong word. But Jesus wasn’t ashamed to testify that the “works” of this world are “evil.” Why?
“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.” (John 7:16-17)
If someone whose mind was set on the things of this world hated Jesus because of his teaching, their problem was really with God. The teaching–including the testimony against the wickedness of the world–was from God and rooted in his authority. “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.”
There’s a principle here that modern disciples of Jesus need to humbly realize and unashamedly embrace. The “works” of this world are evil.
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires… (1 John 2:15-17a)
Our walk with Jesus will involve identifying many things in this world as “evil.” When we do so, we’ll stand out. We’ll be in the minority. We may stand alone. But Jesus is teaching us in John 7, “Don’t be afraid to be distinctive.” The teaching we are following is not ours, but his who has saved and sent us. If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, they may find themselves at odds with the world, but their faithful courage will be celebrated in heaven.
Jesus will say near the end of John’s gospel,
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:19)
Many years later, John would confidently reassure Christians, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13).
Don’t be afraid to be distinctive this weekend, disciple of Jesus. You are not your own. You were bought at a precious price. You have presented yourself as a living sacrifice to God. Be meek, humble, and reverent, but unashamed. With him, you are always in the majority.