“If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world– therefore the world hates you” (John 15:19).
In our Gospel passage yesterday, Jesus calls us His friends on the condition that we do what He commands which is to love others as He loved us. Today, Jesus is telling us that the world would hate us just because we do not belong to it. Try to reconcile this: We are to love others as Jesus loved us, but instead of loving us, the world would hate and persecute us. This is the dilemma of being a Christian in our world today.
Dear friends, if the world hated Christ, the world cannot love those who truly stand for Christ. The problem with Christians today is that we try to make the world love us by all means only to jeopardize our relationship with Christ in the process. That is why you see ladies dressed half-naked going about sharing pamphlets in the name of doing evangelism. Even churches employ such to welcome people as a marketing strategy. The truth is that we cannot serve two masters. We are either Christians or worldly.
On the other hand, if Christ has already warned us ahead of the world’s hatred, I wonder why Christians today spend all their time and energy praying against their enemies (those who hate them). For instance, there is a Church just behind the parish rectory and given the volume of their loudspeakers, I am forced to listen to their prayers, 90% of which are simply curses against their enemies. It is sad that instead of speaking blessings on ourselves, we spend all our energy issuing curses.
Jesus commanded us to love, but today’s Christians are so filled with hatred for enemies both real and imagined. Jesus taught us to build our treasures in heaven where thieves and robbers cannot break in and steal, but today’s Christians are made to believe that if they do not have their fill of the world’s goods, it means their enemies are at work and so they must battle hard to get that which rightfully belongs to them.
It takes a heart to love or to hate. Indeed, there is a thin line between love and hate. Our natural human tendency is to hate those who hate us; wish their death or find ways to fight back – this is normal. But then, Jesus is saying we should love even those who hate us and pray (that is, bless) those who hate us. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:43-45).
Take it from me that if you are one of those Christians praying for the death of your enemies or asking for Holy Ghost fire to burn them, your heart is filled with too much hatred when you should be loving; you are not yet a Christian; you still do not know Christ who loved those who killed him, who instead of praying for their death prayed for their forgiveness.