“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 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 (John 15:18-19)
Someone pointed out to me today that verse and then went on to comment on who the people were who hated Jesus. They were not the prostitutes or tax-collectors or the outcasts or the sick. They were not the sinners and scum of the earth. The ones who hated Jesus were the upstanding religious folks. Because He dared to be spiritual but not religious. Because He was scandalous in who He loved and how much He loved. Because of who He hung out (the sinners) with and who He criticized (the religious). They hated Him so much they had Him killed.
If we are living the way Jesus lived and loving people the way Jesus loved people, we will be hated. Not by sinners and outcasts and reprobates, but by church people. When you try to follow Jesus wholeheartedly, the loudest ones to criticize you will be Christians. Maybe because your lifestyle will convict their complacency and lack of compassion.
If I had to be honest, I would say that most of the time I live more like a Pharisee than Jesus. I have my rules that everyone else must follow. I have my smug self-righteousness. I make myself the standard by which I measure everyone else. Thank God, there are moments when I try to look like Jesus and let Him love people through me. Hopefully, the Pharisee in me will decrease and the Jesus in me will increase.
One last thing. If Jesus ministered almost exclusively to the outcasts and downtrodden and saved His harshest comments for the religious holier-than-thou type, why do we do the opposite? Why do we cater to the sanctimonious and shut out the homeless, hopeless and loveless? If I am honest, I am just as needy of Jesus and His grace as anybody.
Jesus, help me love who You love and go to the hurting and broken and needy the way You did. Give me Your heart for the lost world. May I be Jesus to somebody today.