What Should We Expect as We Follow Christ?
When was the last time you stepped into a situation where it would’ve been helpful to know in advance what you were in for?
My wife and I were in this situation recently. We had joined a new gym and wanted to go to a class together to reduce stress and unwind. So, we signed up for hot yoga. We had never signed up for a yoga class before. I’d done a few workout videos in my basement incorporating yoga, so I figured I was good to go.
I realized within a millisecond why it’s called hot yoga. The room is at a minimum of 90 degrees! The lights all dimmed, and the yoga instructor started speaking quickly in a tongue that everyone but me seemed to understand. I felt like I was dropped right into a performance of Cirque du Soleil.
So, I started imitating the people around me as best I could. It didn’t take long for the pace to pick up and for the poses and movements to get more advanced. People were bending and twisting like pretzels, balancing on their heads, and doing crazy stuff, and I was doing everything I could to keep up, but now, I’m dying. I tossed in the towel at about the 12-minute mark, rolled up my mat, and made the walk of shame back through the huffing and puffing pretzel bodies to the lobby where you could actually breathe.
Clearly, I was not prepared for yoga.
Sometimes, we don’t realize what we’ve signed up for. And so it is when it comes to the Christian faith. Jesus offers anyone and everyone who turns to Him in faith an abundant life (John 10), the forgiveness of sins (Ephesians 1), the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1), an eternal inheritance (Ephesians 1), eternal life (1 Corinthians 15), peace (John 14), joy (John 15), and love (John 15). This is all promised to those who receive the good news of the gospel. But there’s more to the story.
See, Jesus never tried to manipulate humanity with a sales pitch. He never tried to gain a following by sharing only about butterflies and rainbows. He never tried to whitewash the type of sacrificial life His disciples would experience. He never reverted to His talking points to avoid uncomfortable questions. Instead, He said to His followers,
Matthew 16:24b “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (ESV)
He wanted His disciples to know what to expect from the world and how He would help them through all the hostility they would face.
So, what should we expect as we follow the way of Christ?
1️⃣ The world hated Him, so the world will hate you.
John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 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.
That’s a very sobering reality, isn’t it? By the world, Jesus means the organized system under Satan’s domain that is opposed to God and His rightful King, Jesus Christ. What Jesus says is, honestly, exactly what you’d expect. His kingdom is in complete opposition to the kingdom of this world. The disciples of Jesus will be hated because once a person chooses Christ, they no longer identify themselves with the world. They have adopted the framework, the heart, the mind, and the truth of Jesus.
Those who love the world buy into a godless self-idolatry that ignorantly suppresses the truth. And if what someone wants the most is what the world has to offer, then they will end up hating the way of Jesus because His way gets in the way of what they want. When you live out the way of Christ, it becomes a mirror that reflects the filth of the world, and no one wants their unrighteousness brought out into the open. Jesus exposes our sin, which is not pleasant. And if someone’s heart is not open to Jesus, the gospel, or grace, they take on a posture of defensiveness against you and Him.
So, how do we navigate these relationships as followers of Jesus? Well…
2️⃣ The Helper promotes Jesus. He will help you too.
John 15:26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27 And you also will bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning.
How will the disciples continue God’s work in a world that hates them as it hated Jesus but without Jesus being there with them? Enter in the Holy Spirit [or Helper]. The Holy Spirit is the one who empowers the believer to bear witness so that the people who are trapped in the system of the world will find freedom, forgiveness, and salvation in Christ. The Spirit works through believers to carry out God’s redemptive purposes in the world. It’s not OUR doing; it is God’s doing through His Spirit at work within us.
Jesus doesn’t mince words. He doesn’t soften the message so that it sounds more palatable. He says,
“You have my love. You have my peace. You have my joy. Remain in me. Abide in me. And as you abide in me, love one another just as I have loved you. And as you abide in me and love one another, you will be hated by many people who also hate me because they hate the Father. You’ll have each other and a divine Helper within you to remind you of what I’ve said to empower you to face every challenge with the strength of faith that I showed walking to Calvary and to keep you so that you don’t fall away! And when it is all said and done — when you have finished your race — I will be there to welcome you home!”