If You Belonged

Monday, June 03, 2013, 4:56 a.m. – the Lord Jesus woke me with the song “Not Be Silent” playing in my mind. Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 15:18-16:33 (NIV): http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2015&version=NIV; http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2016&version=NIV

Without Reason

“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. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’”

Jesus says that the world will hate those of us who are his true followers. The world he is speaking of, I believe, is the world system - the beliefs, philosophies, ideas, practices and values that stand opposed to God and his word, which includes the people of that worldly system. He said that if we belonged to the world, the world would love us as its own. Yet, when Jesus says that he has chosen us out of the world, he is not speaking of going off and living in a monastery, otherwise we could not love the people of this world, or be a light and a witness to them for the gospel, making disciples of all nations. What he is speaking of, though, is us coming out from underneath the influence, thoughts, values and practices of the world and its people, which and who stand opposed to God and his word.

So, have we done that? Or, do we still belong to the world? If we are still thinking, behaving, believing and speaking like the world, then the world has no cause to hate us. So, if the world (including the worldly church and worldly Christians) does not hate us, then why doesn’t it? Could it be that we still belong to the world, and even though Christ has chosen us out of the world, we have not yet yielded control of our lives to his Spirit in coming out from the world? And, that is why the world still loves us as its own?

Our lives should stand in stark contrast to the world. That does not mean, again, that we don’t utilize modern technology, but it does mean that we bring all things in our lives under the power and control of the Holy Spirit, and that we choose not to participate in anything that stands opposed to God and his word. When we choose to make that stand for Christ and to not go with the flow, we should be hated and persecuted by the world (including inside our institutional churches), just as Jesus was hated and persecuted by the worldly religious leaders of his day. He said that they will even put some of us out of the “synagogue” (the institutional church), and, in fact if anyone kills us, they will think they are offering a service to God. They hated him and they will hate us, too, without reason.

The Comforter

“I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”

When Jesus Christ died and rose again, and then ascended into heaven, he sent his Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his true followers. Now, when we put our faith in Jesus Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit within us as the seal of God’s ownership on us, as the promise of our hope of salvation and eternal life with God, so that God may now dwell within each one of us, and so we have his presence with us always – guiding, leading, counseling, teaching, comforting, convicting of sin, rebuking and encouraging us in our walks of faith. He will, thus, lead us through all the dark valleys of our lives, comfort us in our times of sorrow, and he will fill us with his joy, peace and hope for our future, so we never have to fear. The Spirit within us will guide us into all truth. And, he will tell us what is yet to come.

Weeping and Mourning

Very truly I tell you, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

In the USA, we who profess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior have yet to face any real severe religious persecution, though some of us have had to face some already. Jesus, though it appears he was speaking specifically of the disciples’ grief at their Lord leaving them, told his disciples that they would weep and mourn while the world rejoices, but their grief would be turned to joy. “Now is your time of grief,” he said, “but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

I see here, though, an expansion on this idea of them weeping and mourning while the world rejoices, and on multiple levels, too. We should weep and mourn over the sins of the world, and over those who are lost outside of Christ, while the world has a big party and everything appears to be about self-pleasure and self-indulgence. We ought to weep and mourn, too, because we and our fellow Christians throughout the world are suffering severe persecution for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, we may weep and mourn, as well, because we may even have to go through times of famine of true Christian fellowship, because so many professing Christians in the world are still of this world, and so the type of fellowship described in the Bible will be severely lacking. We, then, will long for a time of revival of Christ’s church and for our heavenly home, and for seeing our Lord face to face.

Joy in the Morning

Jesus told his disciples that, although this was their time of grief, he would see them again and they would rejoice, and no one would take away their joy. They did see him again when he rose from the grave, and they did rejoice because their Lord was no longer dead, but he was alive. Yet, I am quite certain that they were saddened when he left the earth to return to the Father, but then they received the Holy Spirit, so again they were filled with joy. And, even though we have to face times of great trial, tribulation and grief in this life, one day Jesus Christ is going to return, and we will be with him forever, and then our joy will be full!

As I had contemplated the multiple levels on which we weep and mourn while the world rejoices, I also see the many levels on which we will have our grief turned to joy – at the salvation of loved ones or of those for whom we have been in prayer; the revival of the church, the church truly coming out from the world, and the renewed fellowship with our Lord and with one another; and then our Lord’s return when we all go to be with him forever and we are reunited with all those who have gone before us. What wonderful fellowship and worship of God we will have together when we all see Jesus face to face!

Yet, there is also a daily renewal of spirit which we can experience in the Lord as we yield control of our lives and circumstances over to him, trusting him with all we are going through, and just resting in his sovereignty, his love, his faithfulness, and all his many promises to us. In other words, we can be joyful even when things around us are not going well, because we believe in Jesus Christ, and because we have the hope of salvation and eternal life with God. This world is not our home. It is just temporary. So, even though we may not be faced with the best of circumstances, and we may even be facing some really severe times of testing of our faith and strong doses of the hate and persecution of this world system, still we can rejoice in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus is teaching me much about being joyful in all circumstances, and he is filling me with his peace even in my times of weeping and mourning. Thank you Jesus!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Not Be Silent / An Original Work / December 3, 2012

Based off Psalm 30

O Lord my God, I’ll exalt You.
I called for help, and You healed me.
O Lord my God, You brought me from
the grave. You spared me from hell.
Sing to the Lord, you saints of His;
Praise His holy name today.
Weeping may remain for a night;
Joy at break of day. Our debt He did pay!

O Lord my God, I said, “I will
Ne’er be shaken.” Secure, I felt.
O Lord my God, You forgave me.
Confident I stand in You.
When I could not see Your face
I was dismayed. I called to You.
O Lord, You are my help. You were
merciful to me; By Your grace set free!

O Lord my God, I’m so thankful for
Salvation through my Jesus.
You turned wailing into dancing;
Clothed me with Your joy today,
That my heart may sing To You
and not be silent. Praise Your name.
O Lord my God, I will give You
thanks forevermore. My Lord, I adore!