The Hate Locker
The 2008 film, The Hurt Locker, is a story about “the early months of the post-invasion period in Iraq . . . Sergeant First Class William James becomes the new team leader of an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit with the U.S. Army's Bravo Company, replacing Staff Sergeant Thompson, who was killed by a remote-detonated improvised explosive device (IED) in Baghdad. He joins Sergeant J.T. Sanborn and Specialist Owen Eldridge, whose jobs are to communicate with their team leader via radio inside his bomb suit, and provide him with rifle cover while he examines an IED.” [https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0887912/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl].
Initially the new team leader is not accepted by the other two team members, because of his brazen and reckless way of handling the disposal of explosives. They eventually bond as a team. Some of the Iraqi people hate them, which is why they are constantly being targeted and attacked by the insurgents. The hurt locker is a difficult place to work and live.
While we aren’t living and working in the hurt locker, it can feel like we are working and living in a hate locker. The hate locker is also a difficult place to work and live.
As followers of Jesus Christ we are part of the Alpha & Omega Company in God’s army as we fight the spiritual battle against Satan and his minions. As father’s we are called to be the spiritual leaders of our households. While this message is not specifically a Father’s Day message, as father’s we have to be aware of the spiritual battles that are taking place in our own families and lead our “troops” well.
Secular work environment
Before working in ministry, I worked for several secular organizations including a bank, mortgage corporation, and direct mail marketing company
While I can’t say that the people I worked with hated me, I can say that my lifestyle, language, ethics, and morals made some of them uncomfortable
There were times when I was treated differently, because of my religious beliefs and personal standards
How I reacted to various conversations, invitations, and social settings was watched carefully
While I wouldn’t call my work, “a hate locker,” it was still an uncomfortable and sometimes difficult work environment
Ministry work environment
There were and have been times, while working in ministry, that I can say it felt like a hate locker
It’s unfortunate that the secular work environment can be more compassionate and understanding of differences than the ministry work environment
Perhaps you’ve experienced the same thing I have that your work environment is more forgiving than your ministry environment
Some of us may say the opposite – that our work environment is more hostile than our ministry environment
It’s not hard to see those who have been hurt by the church, because they don’t want anything to do with the church anymore
They have experienced both the hate and hurt locker and never want to return to it again
Jesus tells His disciples that they are going to experience the same things, from the world, that He did – hatred, persecution, and death. They will be put out of the synagogue and even killed, because they are connected to Jesus, His words, and His works. As true disciples of Jesus Christ, we will also experience the same things He experienced – hatred, persecution, and death by both religious and non-religious people in the world. The great news is that . . .
BIG IDEA – Being hated by the world means we’re in good company.
If we’re hated by the world, then we know that we are loved by Jesus and the Father (John 15:9) and we are in the same company as Jesus’ disciples.
GOD (John 15:18-16:4a)
Same Treatment (vv. 18-25)
The world’s reaction to disciples of Jesus Christ (vv. 18-19a, 20)
PRINCIPLE #1 – Being a disciple of Jesus means being hated and persecuted by the world.
Hatred (v. 18-19a)
Jesus has just given His disciples the command to love each other as He has loved them (John 15:12, 17)
Now He tells them about the hatred the world has towards them – it’s the total opposite
He reminds them that the world hated Him first
Being hated by the world means we’re in good company.
Jesus then gives them the opposite truth or principle
They would be loved by the world, if they belonged to the world, but they don’t
We’ll talk about that in just a little bit
The disciples won’t just be hated, but they will also be persecuted – it moves from an attitude of the heart to action
Persecution (v. 20)
Jesus reminds them what He said earlier about a servant and master
Earlier that evening, when Jesus washed His disciple’s feet, He said the same thing, no servant is greater than his master (John 13:16)
In that context Jesus is exhorting His disciples to follow His example
In fact, He tells them that they are to continue to practice foot washing with each other (John 13:14-15)
In the current context, Jesus, telling His disciples that no servant is greater than his master, means that they will not miraculously avoid the same treatment He received, but will experience persecution as well
When the disciples began their public ministry we know that they experienced the same hatred and persecution that Jesus did
Luke tells us in Acts 5:17-42 about one of the times that the disciples experienced persecution
We see their response in Acts 5:41, The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.
In fact, all of disciples/apostles, except John, died for their faith in Jesus and witness for Him
The early church also experienced persecution, On that day [the day of Stephen’s stoning] a great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were scattered throughout Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1)
Two conditional statements support the statement that no servant is greater than his master
If they persecuted me [and many of them did], they will persecute you also
Jesus is telling them that persecution will happen for them – it’s not if, but when
The second conditional statement is similar
Obeying Jesus’ teaching
This conditional statement can be taken two ways – positive and negative
Positive – If they obeyed my teaching [and some of them did], they will obey yours also
This brings hope for the mission of Gospel
The apostles experienced the positive side of this statement many times
The most dramatic would be on the Day of Pentecost
Luke tells us about in Acts 2:41, Those who accepted his [Peter’s] message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
Negative – If they obeyed my teaching [which they did not!], they will obey yours also [which they will not!]
The apostles also experienced this, especially with the Jewish religious leaders (Acts 5:17-42; 12:1-19; 16:16-40)
They were opposed to the message of the Gospel, although not all of them were
Being hated by the world means we’re in good company.
Do you feel like you are being hated and persecuted by the world?
This is a real concern in the United States, because most Christians rarely experience direct attacks of hatred and persecution
Those who experience these direct attacks are what most other Christians would label as “radical” or a “Jesus freak”
They’re completely sold out for the Lord and take the Great Commission seriously
They see every human being from an eternal perspective
If we aren’t being hated and persecuted by the world, perhaps it’s because we are part of the world (we are both in the world and of the world)
Probably, every one of us can honestly say that we need to improve in this area
#1 – My Next Step Today Is To: Evaluate my relationship with the world to determine whether I am hated or loved by them.
If you are loved by the world, what changes do you need to make in order to be hated and persecuted by the world?
Being hated by the world means we’re in good company.
Why will the world hate and persecute disciples of Jesus Christ?
The reasons why (vv. 19b, 21-25)
Chosen out of the world (v. 19b)
Jesus tells His disciples that they will be hated by the world, because they don’t belong to this world
He has chosen them out of the world to be His messengers of the Gospel
“As they grow more Christlike, it will become evident that though they are in the world, they are not of it (17:11, 14), and this, in turn, will convict the world (3:19-21; 7:7) (Carson 1991: 525).” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 464]
As disciples of Jesus Christ, He has chosen us out of the world to be His messengers of the Gospel
This first reason is only the beginning – this is why the world will hate us
Next we see why the world will persecute us
Jesus’ name (v. 21)
The world will persecute the disciples and us, because of Jesus’ name, and their ignorance of the truth about God
“The three-step logic is as follows: when people oppose the disciples, it is because they oppose Jesus; if people oppose Jesus, it is because they do not know the Father (see 15:23); therefore, if people oppose the disciples, it is ultimately because they do not know God.” [Köstenberger, 465]
Praying at the capitol building
When any pastor is asked to pray at the capitol building, in Harrisburg, to open a session of the house or senate, they provide guidelines for the prayer
They encourage pastors to be inclusive in their prayer, because of the various faiths that are represented
While they don’t say a pastor cannot close with, “in Jesus name,” that would definitely not be inclusive of all religions
Most pastors will close by saying, “I pray in Jesus’ name,” instead of “We pray in Jesus’ name.”
Have you ever noticed that God and Jesus’ names are used as cuss words? (that’s another example of the world’s hatred because of Jesus’ name)
OMG = “Oh, my God” (Oh, my Allah)
“God d$%# it!” (Buddha, d$%# it!)
“Jesus Christ!” (Hare Krishna!)
Notice that no other religions leader’s name is used as a cuss word
The world will persecute us because of Jesus’ name and their ignorance of the truth about God
They will also persecute us because of Jesus’ words
Jesus’ words (v. 22)
We don’t want to misunderstand or misinterpret what is being said here
Jesus is not saying that if He had not come, the world would be prefect and sinless
Rather, He is stressing that the world is culpable, because they have rejected the divine revelation that Jesus shared with them [Köstenberger, 466]
Jesus brought them the truth of God and they rejected Him – they rejected God’s ultimate plan of salvation from sin
Therefore, they are responsible for their own sins and the consequences associated with them [Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary, John, 287]
Read Romans 1:18-23
“The verdict is absolutely clear. Jesus did come, the gospel was presented, the people have been disobedient, and therefore they are guilty of sin.” [Borchert, The New American Commentary, John 12-21, 157]
They have no excuse for their sin, that will satisfy a holy, loving, and just God
It wasn’t just Jesus’ words that brings persecution, but also His works
Jesus’ works (vv. 23-24)
The same truth applies here as to Jesus’ words – the world would not be perfect and sinless if Jesus had not come and done the miraculous works that He did
They rejected His miracles and therefore are guilty of the sin of hatred
They don’t just hate Jesus, but the Father also
That’s what Jesus is saying at the beginning of verse 23
Jesus has been telling them all along that He and the Father are One
PRINCIPLE #2 – God and Jesus are One.
We can’t say that we love God and not love Jesus
We can’t say that we believe in God, but not Jesus
They are inseparable – they are one in the same
“Religious interest that pursues signs may be suspicious (4:48), and faith based on sight is intrinsically inferior (20:29); even so, it is infinitely better than no faith, and the signs and works of Jesus make a legitimate claim on faith (4:34; 5:36; 9:32-33; 10:38). Rejection of Jesus’ words (v. 22) and works (v. 24) is thus the rejection of the clearest light, the fullest revelation; and therefore it incurs the most central, deep-stained guilt.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 526]
How does this apply to us?
PRINCIPLE #3 – Jesus’ words and works expose our sin.
We have Jesus’ words in the Bible – God’s Holy Word
We can and do experience the miraculous works of Jesus, though sometimes we miss them or fail to acknowledge them
When we reject Jesus’ words and works we are responsible for our own sin
We have all sinned (Rom. 3:23) [lying, stealing, blaspheme, anger, lust]
We all deserve eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23)
God’s grace is extended to us continually (Rom. 5:8)
Isaiah 53:5, But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
#2 – My Next Step Today Is To: Accept Jesus’ words and works and be healed from the guilt of my sin.
When someone makes that decision for Jesus, they are promised eternal life (the kind of life we need here on earth to obey God, and the kind of life we need to spend eternity with God in the new heaven and the new earth)
Jesus gives one more reason why the world hated Him and us by association
Fulfill Scripture (v. 25)
It was to fulfill their Law
It’s fascinating that Jesus says “their” Law
The Jews would claim that they were obediently following God’s law – which is oddly true, since they are fulfilling Scripture
Unfortunately, they were also rejecting God’s plan of salvation from sin
There was a discrepancy between what they said and what they did
The fulfillment of Scripture comes from two Old Testament sources
Psalm 35:19, Let not those who gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.
Psalm 69:4, Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.
We’ve explored the reasons why the world hates and persecutes disciples of Jesus
What should our response be when persecution comes?
Same Response (vv. 15:26-16:4a)
It should be the same response the Jesus had when He was hated and persecuted
Don’t stop testifying (vv. 15:26-27)
Jesus never stopped telling the Jews, and everyone else who would listen, about the kingdom of God and the character of God
I’m sure that Jesus got frustrated when people would hear His words and see the miraculous works God allowed Him to do and then reject Him
But, He never stopped testifying, never stopped sharing, never stopped fulfilling God’s purpose for Him on earth
Help from heaven
Jesus promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit was coming (Counselor)
The Holy Spirit would testify to the truth of what Jesus had said while on earth
Jesus then exhorts His disciples to do the same thing
They would be able to testify about Jesus, because they had been with Him from the beginning
They knew the whole story of who He was and why He came from the Father
They would know the ultimate sacrifice He would give to bring eternal life
They would know about His miraculous resurrection from the dead – defeating sin and death
They would know how He ascended into heaven, so they would know how He would return again – in the clouds
We have the same Holy Spirit living in us, who testifies about Jesus
Because of God’s Word, we know the same things that the disciples knew
PRINCIPLE #4 – God is pleased when His people testify about Jesus.
We have been given the same commission and command as the disciples
We are to go into all the world and preach the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, making disciples of every nation, baptizing them, and teaching them everything that Jesus has commanded us (Mark 16:15; Matt. 28:18-20)
#3 – My Next Step Today Is To: Testify about Jesus to my family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
Testify about how He saved you from sin
Testify about how He has provided for you in difficult times
Testify about how He has healed you, physically
Testify about anything and everything He has done for you
Our first response should be to testify about Jesus, while our second response should be to stand firm
Don’t fall away (vv. 16:1-4a)
Jesus did not fall away from His responsibility to fulfill God’s plan of salvation
That didn’t mean that, in His humanness, He didn’t hope and pray that He wouldn’t have to suffer the cross
Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
For Jesus, it was about fulfilling God’s will and not His own
Jesus told His disciples the kind of persecution they would face, so they would be prepared ahead of time and be able to stand firm
Put out of the synagogue
When we are sharing the truth of God’s Word it can bring out separation, even within the church
Conviction of sin can cause Christians to feel uncomfortable and they will respond with flight or fight
Some will leave the church and say, “I felt like my toes were getting stepped on every week!”
Others will attack the preacher and/or the leadership, just so they don’t have to deal with their own sin
In some extreme cases, the pastor is forced out of the church and another pastor is brought in that will satisfy what the people want to hear
2 Timothy 4:3, For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
The disciples wouldn’t only be put out of the synagogue, but most of them would experience death
In our western culture, we rarely experience this extreme form of persecution, but it is happening frequently to Christians in most other parts of the world
They are willingly dying for their faith in Jesus Christ
I believe that even Christians in the United States will eventually experience this form of persecution as we get closer to Jesus’ second coming
“‘When people think about the Holocaust, they think about the crimes against Jews, but here's a different perspective,’ said Julie Seltzer Mandel, editor of the Nuremberg Project for the Rutgers Journal of Law and Religion. ‘They wanted to eliminate the Jews altogether, but they were also looking to eliminate Christianity.’
Fragile, typewritten documents from the 1940s lay out the Nazi plan in grim detail: Take over the churches from within, using party sympathizers. Discredit, jail, or kill Christian leaders. And re-indoctrinate the congregants. Give them a new faith in Germany's Third Reich.
Says Mandel, ‘The best evidence of an anti-church plan is the systematic nature of the persecution itself. Different steps in that persecution, such as the campaign for the suppression of denominational and youth organizations, the campaign against denominational schools, and the defamation campaign against the clergy were supported by the entire regimented press, by Nazi Party meetings, and by traveling party speakers.’”
Edward Colimore, "Papers Reveal Nazi Aim: End Christianity," Philadelphia Inquirer (1-09-02); submitted by Aaron Goerner, New Hartford, New York
It’s important for us to be prepared to experience the same kind of treatment that Jesus did, because He promised us that it would happen – no servant is greater than his master
Jesus didn’t tell them about this at first, because He was with them
He realized that while He was on earth, all of the hatred and persecution would be directed at Him
He had to tell them about the coming hatred and persecution for them, because He was going to the Father
Are you hated or loved by the world? (what changes?)
Have you accepted Jesus’ words and works and experienced His healing from your sins?
Are you testifying about Jesus to your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors?
We are all called to the great commission and the great command
BENEFIT OF ENEMIES
“I heard [a story] about attempts to ship fresh North Atlantic cod from Boston to San Francisco during the nineteenth century. At that time the only way to ship the fish to the West Coast was to sail around the South American continent—a trip that took months. As you can imagine, the first attempts to dress the cod in Boston and pack them in ice failed miserably. By the time they reached California, the fish weren't exactly fit for consumption.
Next, the cod were placed in holding tanks full of water, shipped to California alive, and dressed there. The results were less than satisfactory. The fish didn't get much exercise during the trip, and as a result they were pasty and relatively tasteless.
Finally, someone hit upon an interesting idea. ‘Why don't we put some catfish in with the cod?’
Why? Because catfish are cods' natural enemy. Sure enough, when a few catfish were placed in those tanks with them, the cod were always alert and swimming around. This time, when the fish reached San Francisco, they were in perfect shape.”
Bill Myers and David Wimbish, The Dark Side of the Supernatural (Bethany).