Friday – March 11, 2016
Day 31 – John 15:1-16:4a
Focus: vs. 15:18
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.”
Going through school, as a child, is a gauntlet of social interaction. Being a fairly athletic child I was rarely picked last for sports teams – I was rarely first but almost never last. The kids who were picked last were generally the least athletic and the least popular. Those were the rules of the playground and they can scar you for life. No one wants to be rejected, especially during our most formative years. What about you? Were you generally first, last or somewhere in between?
The fear of rejection is one of the greatest fears around and it can cause us to do a lot of strange things. It can cause us to put on a mask in life and always try to show people what they want to see rather than our true selves. It can cause us to become people-pleasers who can never say no in an effort to retain friendships. It can cause an avoidance of confrontations as we pretend our own needs don’t matter. And it can cause passive-aggressive behaviors like procrastination, complaining and laziness as we try to reject others before they can reject us. This is a phobia that can really cause a lot of heartache.
Our scripture reading for today talks a bit about rejection. In verses 18-20 Jesus tells us to expect the world to reject us because of Him. He says, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own.” You often hear Christians talk about the “world” in reference to our lives on earth with unbelievers all around us. The “world” often refers to all those things on earth that pull us away from God’s ways. The “world” is that which rejects God. Jesus is telling us to have to no fear of rejection. Don’t get all worked up because the world is against you for following Christ. Don’t be surprised if you are treated badly because Jesus was treated badly.
We live in a world that loves conformity. Conformity isn’t always a bad thing but isn’t always a good thing either. Do you remember your mother asking you “if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it, too?” Peer pressure is another way of exploiting a fear of rejection and a desire to conform to the standards of our peer groups. Since conformity is in our human nature, it’s important that we seek positive standards and peer groups. No one wants to be rejected by another person but, if it must be so, be rejected for refusing to conform to standards rejected by God.
Prayer Focus: Dear Jesus, help me to stand strong for You. Help me to conform to Your will and to Your ways. Help me to love You more than this world. Amen.