Bible Reading: John 15:18 - 16:33
“In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33)
If we’ve grown up in a safe Christian community for the majority of our childhood, we must know that this will not be the reality forever. Jesus straight-up tells us, “you will have tribulation”. What kind of tribulation does Jesus talk about, and how are we going to endure?
From John 15:18, Jesus talks about the world’s hatred. The world will hate followers of Jesus. Jesus says the world will hate because they do not know Him or the Father. Jesus warns that the Christian life in this one is not meant to be relaxing or comfortable. It will be filled with pain and tribulation because of the world who will relentlessly oppose us.
They will even hate on Christians, saying that they are following the will of God. “Indeed, the hour is coming”, Jesus says to His disciples, “when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God”. Flick through the pages of Christian history, and you will know that what Jesus said came true.
Paul thought he was serving God when he tried to eradicate blasphemous followers of The Way. Ugly clashes between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church during the reformation led to many murders in the name of God on both sides. The Puritans were burnt at the stake because, according to the Church, they were preaching heresy. Fast forward to the present, and these words seem a little too close to home. Radical Islamists all over the world brutally torture and murder Christians because they are a defilement to Allah.
If we talk about tribulation right where we are, they are waiting for us around the corner. Yes, even in the most developed and ‘civilised’ societies, we will be persecuted. Little do we know how those in academia and science who we adore for their mind-blowing innovations preach atheism, citing that religion is a dangerous delusion for society. In the business world, honest people like Christians will be scorned as they make no contribution to profit earned through sly methods. In politics and the media, the world fights for ‘good things that they think will advance society. They fight to give rights by legalising abortion, normalising homosexuality, and before you know it, a plethora of God-dishonouring sins will be celebrated as diversity in our culture.
When we go out into the world, evil will try to diminish us, wherever we are. What then should we do?
The one thing that sets Christians apart from the world is that God’s Spirit has worked in their hearts to know who Christ and the Father are. Despite all the evil, God’s Spirit, whom Jesus sent, is still actively working and guiding His people today. By the Spirit, God wants to use Christians as His servants to witness His light and truth amidst this dark world. Although it will be hard, God’s Spirit is with us.
Above all, Jesus reminds us that joy is awaiting us at the end of the race. Jesus has overcome the world, and because of that, our sorrow will turn to joy. He has promised a joyful inheritance in heaven with Him for those who faithfully finish the race.
As we live our Christian lives, will we be faithful to God and His ways?
Lord, thank You that You have overcome the world. There will be tribulation for us, Lord because the world hates the light. Yet, shape us and mould us into effective tools for Your kingdom here on earth. Please help us to look to the joy that is set before us. May Your Spirit work to guide and lead us to live faithfully to the end. In Jesus’ name, amen.