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When the World Hates

09.05.21 Nathaniel Wall

  1. Full of Joy
    09.19.21 32m 40s
  2. Refuse to Fall
    09.12.21 40m 52s
  3. When the World Hates
    09.05.21 38m 58s
  4. Stay Connected to the Vine
    08.29.21 45m 09s
  5. Do Works Greater Than Jesus?!
    08.22.21 40m 38s
  6. For The Troubled Heart
    08.15.21 46m 45s
  7. Victorious Christian Living
    08.01.21 46m 07s
  8. What You Should Do With Clean Feet
    07.25.21 47m 11s
  9. Dinner with Jesus
    07.18.21 42m 53s
  10. 5 Truths for Troubled Souls
    07.11.21 49m 47s
  11. The Triumphal Entry
    07.04.21 43m 23s
  12. Mary Anoints Jesus
    06.27.21 42m 28s
  13. Raising Lazarus
    06.20.21 39m 15s
  14. Jesus and the Father are One
    06.13.21 47m 12s
  15. How Good is the Good Shepard?
    06.06.21 40m 16s
  16. Was Blind But Now I See
    05.30.21 45m 25s
  17. Live Free
    05.23.21 38m 07s
  18. The Light of the World
    05.16.21 34m 45s
  19. Condemnation and the Gospel
    05.09.21 34m 31s
  20. Not The What But The Who
    05.02.21 40m 24s
  21. The Significance of Feasts
    04.25.21 38m 53s
  22. Eat Jesus
    04.18.21 39m 06s
  23. Faith Through The Storm
    04.11.21 37m 51s
  24. Worship When You Struggle
    03.28.21 35m 25s
  25. Healthy Conflict
    03.21.21 43m 50s
  26. Pick Up Your Mat and Walk
    03.14.21 33m 45s
  27. Cling To His Word
    02.28.21 33m 07s
  28. The Scandalous Grace Of God
    02.21.21 38m 55s
  29. The Strength of Humble Faith
    02.14.21 36m 11s
  30. Life Over Death
    02.07.21 46m 45s
  31. Do Not Waver
    01.31.21 43m 16s
  32. Jesus Makes Wine
    01.24.21 36m 36s
  33. The Story of Us
    01.17.21 40m 44s
  34. What Made John Great?
    12.27.20 34m 29s
  35. Why Jesus?
    12.20.20 31m 51s
  36. The Word of Light and Life
    12.13.20 34m 02s

When the World Hates

09.05.21 Nathaniel Wall Light the Dark Series

I’m going to invite you to John Chapter 15 today. John 15 is where we’re going to be and this section of scripture is one of those sections that you read, maybe it’s just me, but as you read it, you’re like, “Man, why does this have to be relevant?” This section of life that I don’t want to relate to me at all, but because Jesus said it, the good thing about the sexier scripture is, even though I don’t necessarily want to dive into today’s section because of what the topic is, I’m thankful that God still has a plan and God still cares. And that’s where we find it today. If you remember, in the context of where we’re getting to in John 15, these are the last hours of Jesus’s life and he’s spending it in the most intimate settings with his disciples in the upper room, teaching some of the most beautiful teachings he has ever delivered as it relates to being a follower of Christ from John 13, to John 17. That’s where Jesus does this then.

And John 15 is getting to a very difficult section of scripture. And in Christ’s life right now, after he spends these six hours with his disciples, he’s going to go to the cross for six hours. And he finds as he’s delivered over into the hands of his enemies, that he’s not only being attacked religiously by the Jews, he’s also being attacked politically by the Romans. And the disciples are looking at this moment, thinking, what’s going to happen to us? If this is going to happen to Jesus, then our lives are over too, and we gave up our lives to follow him for the last three years. And so, “Is this entire pursuit that we’ve had in following Jesus for his kingdom? Is that gone as well?” They see everything coming to its demise. And Jesus not only says everything’s working according to plan, but greater things than these, you will do.

Now, the disciples are dealing with the turmoil and Christ is pointing to the future with hope. And then in verse 18, Jesus gives this very sobering statement. He says, if the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it has hated you. Now this is kind of like a rain on your parade, party sort of statement, isn’t it? This thought that Jesus, he’s saying, the greater things that you’re going to do, and the spirit of God is going to be with you, and keep looking forward, and keep anticipating this great hope, and lean harder into me. That’s all the things Christ has said leading up to this. And all of a sudden, he just says, and the world hates me and the world hates you. Why would Jesus say this, right?

I think there’s a few reasons we could point out, but let me just highlight one for you. I think the enemy, Satan, loves discouragement and adversity in your life because, if Satan can get you isolated, feeling all alone, questioning the goodness of who your God is, then Satan can devour you. In fact, I think that was the thought of Peter when he wrote his last couple of epistles before his own martyrdom at the end of first Peter Chapter 5. He says to us in verse seven, cast all your cares on the Lord because he cares for you, because your enemy, your adversary roars around like a lion seeking whom he may devour. Satan knows, if he can get you discouraged, he’s got a good opportunity to crush you where you are. And think the way a lion hunts. The lion comes towards the pack, but the lion doesn’t just charge into the pack. The lion wants to pick off the weak one in the edge. The one in the fray, the one that’s limping around, the one that seems most wounded. And I think Jesus knows, that’s how Satan gets us.

But at the same time, in the midst of our weakness, God can also do some incredible things. And we’re going to, we’re going to talk about that in a moment. In fact, I would say, things that are even greater and even stronger than Satan’s approach towards us as people. But I want to open off, if you picked up the notes this morning, there’s a blank at the very beginning of your notes that just reminds us of this thought as Christians. And then, Jesus is doing the same thing here in verses 18 to 21. This is the blank, every Christian has a battle. Every Christian has a battle. If you look at verse 18 to verse 21, look at this with me. I highlighted this. It’s very interesting how this section starts off and the way Jesus then starts to communicate further from here. He says, if the world hates you. Notice that? There was the word, if. If the world hates you, you know that it has hated me before it has hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. But because you are not of the world but I chose you out of the world, because of this, the world hates you. So he starts off, if the world hates you, let’s be real. The world will hate you. That’s what he says in verse 19-verse 20.

Remember the word that I said to you? A slave is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you. So not only your standing in Christ will the world hate, but also, you will be persecuted because of that. If they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But all of these things, they will do you to you for my name’s sake, because they do not know the one who sent me. Every Christian has a battle and Jesus is reminding us that it’s not a matter of, in following after him if the world hates you. But the reality is that, when you stand for Christ, you stand opposed to what the world stands for. I love how Paul says it in first Corinthians. I think it’s 5:9 he describes all of the sins of the world. And then he says this: And such worse, some of you, but you’ve been bought. To Christ, you’ve been glorified in him. And there was a way that used to align, that was opposed to God because you belong to the things of this world. But now, you stand opposed to the things of this world because you belong to Christ.

When you read in the context of even the book of John, John 3:16, it’s very interesting how he juxtaposes John writing. He writes the book of John and he writes the book of first John, and he says two different things. That’s very interesting. And John 3:16 says, for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son. But then in first John Chapter 2 verses 15-17, he says, love not the world, nor the things in the world. It’s very confusing, isn’t it? For God so loved the world. And then first John Chapter 2, verses 15-17: Love not the world, nor the things in the world. So which is it? Do I love the world or do I not love the world? But the context bleeds into this thought that, when God’s talking about world in John 3:16, what he’s talking about is the people of the world. When John is talking about the world and in first John two, verses 15-17, he’s talking about things of this world, the systems of this world. And the Bible calls us to live differently. And because you live contrary to that, the Bible reminds us, Jesus reminds us here, that the world will hate you.

And when you think in terms of this hate, hate feels very personal. Because, as it’s described here for us in a very general way, the world hates you, we come to know, and as we experienced life and following Jesus, that sometimes, the world has very specific names. It could be friends, it could be family. And it’s hard not to feel like it’s personal when people you know stand against you because of your love for Jesus. But Jesus reminds us. And take a look at this, guys, give me another click here. Jesus says, keep in mind, because why it may feel personal, it really isn’t. Because what they ultimately hate, it’s me. Jesus says, the hate that you experience, it’s really hatred towards me. He says in verse 18, it has hated me before it hated you. In verse 20, if they had persecuted me, they will also persecute you. Verse 21, they will do to you for my name’s sake, because they don’t know the one who sent me. Jesus is saying in those moments, just recognize that what it’s ultimately against, really isn’t you, it’s against him.

Every Christian has a battle. It’s where the enemy likes to work. But God has the ability to do incredible things in the midst of that struggle. But point number two, I want us to recognize as well. The truth is crucial. The truth is crucial. And when we engage that battle, what the enemy wants more than anything is to come against the truth. The truth brings life. The truth develops conviction in God’s people. The battle starts with the truth. And not just simply the truth, but really the truth believed. James Chapter 2 talks about this. He says, even the demons believe. And what James is saying is, look, there’s one thing to intellectually ascend to something, to recognize something as true, but it’s another thing to surrender your life to it. Like, you can know Jesus is true, but still not surrender your life to Jesus.

When we’re talking about believing, it’s the type of belief that we believe in. We want to put our faith into this holistically. This is what Jesus has been saying to us. John 8:32, that you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free. Jesus said in John 14:6, I am the way, the truth, and the life. In John 15, verse five, I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in me will bear much fruit. It’s not just the idea of this assenting to the truth, but trusting in it, leaning into the idea of truth. That the truth is crucial. And from the beginning, that’s what Satan’s pursuit has been. Has to get you to question the truth, to doubt the truth, to pervert the truth. In the Adam and Eve from the garden of Eden, did God really say, do you want to know where Satan’s going to do his battle? Start with the truth.

If he can get you to doubt God’s promises. I mean, you could see it on a page, you can know what it says. But if you can see that it’s saying, that’s what God says for everyone else. But, but does God really loved me? Does God really care about me? Can I put all of my wellbeing into the statement that Christ delivered to his people as one of his people? The truth is where he battles. Look at this. It says in John Chapter 15, in verse 20. Jesus even identifies, if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. Jesus is recognizing for us, it’s been a battle over his word. If they had just given into his word, but they didn’t.

Even at Jesus’s death, what you’ll find in Christ is, they twist what Jesus has said. It’s a battle over the truth. Maybe I should say it like this for us. What makes this so important is because, if they twist Jesus’s words, they can twist your words too. And when people start to manipulate and twist your words, you could look at that moment and start to think, am I the one that’s crazy? That’s is the definition of gaslight, isn’t it? And then you start to, you’ve embraced something, you’ve walked with something, you’ve said something. And all of a sudden, now they’re saying things that aren’t exactly what you said, to misrepresent who you are and what you’re about. And so Jesus wants us to understand how important is to root yourself here. Find the foundation for which you should stand. That’s one of the beautiful things today about singing the last song that we sing before we started delivering this message. Is to see that Christianity has stood on the same pillar of truth for thousands of years. The truth sets you free, John 8:32.

Many of you would remember. It’s not been too long ago. I think it was beginning of this year that Larry King passed away. It’s only been a few years ago since Larry King retired from doing his show. But one time they questioned Larry King and they said to him, Larry, out of all the guests you had. Because he had a ton. Every night, he had a different guest. What’s one guest you never had, that you wish you’ve had the chance to interview? And he would always joke, the only guests that ever escaped Larry King was God. And so they asked him, well, if you ever had the opportunity to interview God, what would be the question you would ask him? And he said this: My first question for God would be, do you have a son? Because there’s a lot riding on the answer.

I was listening to a young lady yesterday, mowing my lawn. She’s she was, she’s actually not young anymore, she’s got her PhD now. But she was talking about her faith. Previous to coming to Christ, she used to be nominally a Buddhist. She didn’t really practice it, but she grew up in a home that, that was the way her parents identified, and so that’s how she saw herself. And then she started to interact with some Christians. And she said, as she started to interact with some Christians, she realized, in all her life, she had come to this belief that, in order to find out what belief system might be right in the world, she always generally believed in a God, but whatever belief system might be right in the world, she would have to explore every faith to know the answer to whether or not what belief would be true and what belief wasn’t. But then she started to interact with Christians and she found out, because of the claim with Christianity, that her former idea of having to explore every belief to find the right belief was in fact fallacious. She began to realize in Christianity that all of Christianity hinged on one thing: who Jesus is, as it relates to his death, burial and resurrection.

She realized, If she took the opportunity just to study the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, that if she found it to be true, then she didn’t have to look anywhere else. And so she started to explore the reality of what Christianity had said about Jesus in relationship to his death, burial, and resurrection. And found what she investigated as being historically validated and therefore true.

And then she was left with another question: Would she believed it then? Because she was also began to realize that, while she saw it as true, that her reputation was at risk, what would her friends and families say if all of a sudden she claimed to be a Christian? And then she determined the person she wanted to be. That, regardless of where the chips may fall, She wanted to stand as a person who rested in the truth. Every Christian has a battle and the truth is crucial. It becomes the hinge point for where you rest yourself in Christ.

I love what Peter said in John six, verse 68. If you see it on the screen. This is in John Chapter 6. If you remember in this story. Together we explored this several weeks ago. But this is the point where Jesus declares that it’s going to be difficult to follow after him. And many a people stopped following Christ, but the disciples stayed by Jesus. And he asked them, are you going to leave too? And Peter gives this remark. So then Peter replied, Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words of eternal life. That, yes Jesus, it may be hard, but Jesus, it’s the truth that gives life. And therefore, it’s the truth for which we will stand. When you approach this chapter in John, Chapter 15, verse 18, I think what Jesus wants us to anticipate, guys, and prepare our minds for, is to recognize there is a storm coming. When you follow Jesus, there will be a storm that comes. But determine right now, what your heart will stand for. Because in the storm, sometimes there is a feeling that wages against you, but there is a faith that endures. Determine what you will follow.

That’s how James opens up his book in James Chapter 1, verses 2-4. Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you endure various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work. What James is saying is, when hardship comes, it becomes the place for you to express that your faith in Jesus is deeper than the hardship that you endure. You know your faith is real because, through the adversity, you still choose Jesus. And so James is saying, considered all joy because the testing of your faith produces that endurance. The expression of your faith is seen in hardship and Jesus matters more. Every Christian has a battle and the truth becomes that place. It’s the crucial point for which you stand.

And then point number three, the battle plans are clear. In your blank, it’s hate or love. In verse 22, Jesus goes on and says it like this: If I had not come and spoken to them, in talking about the world, they would not have sin. But now, they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates me, hates my father also. If I had not done among them, the works which no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have both seen and hated me and my father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their law. They hated me without cause. So Jesus is saying, you want to know why the world responds the way it does, their battle plan is hate? It’s because I’ve shown up and I’ve put a spotlight on where they’re walking contrary to me. And now they’ve got to do something about it. And so what they choose to do about it, rather than change themselves and surrender to me, is to take me out of the way. I’ve caused them to have to deal with their lives that live contrary to me, their creator and their savior, and they would rather live king of their lives. So that battle plan is hate.

And here’s yours, though, in the midst of this, guys. Don’t let the world dictate how you’re called to live. Just because they choose to respond one way, you’ve already been given your battle calling in the Lord. And in John Chapter 15 verses 12 and 17, Jesus said it to us, just previous to this section. This is my commandment: that you love one another just as I have loved you. This is, I command you that you love one another, regardless of how the world responds. And John says this in first John, I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in truth. And here’s how you know God’s children are walking in truth. If you love God in first John 4, you’ll love others. We are never given excuse to hate someone else. Our calling in this world is to stand on the truth and love. And the world doesn’t understand that. The belief of the world is, if you love me, then you will agree with me. And the beauty of Jesus is, and while he still disagreed with us as sinners, he never stopped loving us. It’s a beautiful place where we can come to Christ however we are and find Jesus. Heal us and transform us because, in our sin, he never gave up on us.

And that’s our calling in the world. To not back down from truth, because it’s the truth the transforms. And to do so lovingly, compassionately, caring for others that walk contrary to God. To live the truth in love. The world tends to see it like this. If you obey me, then I will love you. But Jesus’ way is this: Because I love you, therefore you will obey me. It’s his compassion and love towards us that draws us in to him. Romans 1221 says it like this: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

As a church, this is the beautiful place for us that we have opportunity to, I think, experience the Lord and the way that we live. In fact, because of where we live. Because I think this is so critical to see these two points. That, as we have our battle, the truth is so crucial, not to back away from this. But not just the truth, but to communicate that truth in love. People are not our enemies. We’re called into this world to fight for them. And that’s the beauty of the mission of the church, isn’t it? That we exist for people outside of us. We exist to reach this world for Christ.

I can think, when I say that, those kinds of words, to be able to echo those words in the United States of America. Can I just tell you, that I don’t think there is a more important place I can give that kind of a statement. I don’t think there’s a more important county I can say that a statement. I mean, when you look at the demographics of where we live, do you recognize in Utah County today, there are only about 20 mainstream Christian churches in our county? In a county of 700,000 people. Almost 700,000 people, I should say. That’s one church for 35,000 people. You know the average size of our churches in this valley? There are a few that are a little bigger, but the average sized church in our valley is about 50 people. Can tell you, if you live in Utah, and specifically, if you live in Utah County, the thoughts that Jesus is expressing to us this morning, I should think, if anyone cleans to these words more than anyone else, it’s us today.

To recognize, in following after Jesus, it may make me different and there is a battle to fight, but the truth is worth it because the truth is freeing and the truth is crucial. And the truth shapes conviction in me while other people may twist the truth or stand against the truth. I need to affirm in myself what that truth is. So I rest upon that truth and rest in it so confidently that, when people come against it, I’m not attacking them, but loving them in it and loving them through it. Because where I sit and how I stand in Jesus, it matters. It matters more here than anywhere. Expressing the truth in Christ and love.

That’s why, as a church, when we think about how we want to stand, we have these core values that we state. And I want to say, I’m not going to go through all these values, but I just want you to be aware that, as a church, we have these values. These values are so valuable to us because of the way, not only that it stands for truth, but how it stands for truth. To know Christ. To say, look, we’re not a place of religion, we’re a place of relationship. Jesus wants to walk with you daily, to know him and to understand we come to God in this truth, not to beat people up with it, but to understand Jesus wants you to set you free. And to find your identity in him and to see how beautiful that is. To speak that truth in love. We’re not here to prove we’re right, At the end of the day, if you think we’re right and you’re wrong, what does that do? We want you to walk with Christ with us. And seeing that as caring for every soul and devoted to one another as a church. And to think beyond us, bigger than us, because God calls us to live on mission as his people.

The last is this, the last blank in your notes. The spirit is our strength, verse 26 and 27 of John 15. The spirit is our strength. This is a little bit weird. If you read this section, Chapter 15 verses 18-27, most Bibles will section off verses 26 and 27 as a separate paragraph. It’s like, Jesus has two thoughts about this struggle that we’re in. In verse 26 and 27, it kind of looks like he stopped talking about his subject matter, which is the adversity that we face. And all of a sudden, starts talking about the spirit. But what Jesus is actually doing is, he’s really going full circle all the way back to chapter 14. He’s going back to Chapter 14, in verse 16-,18 here to remind us what the purpose of the spirit is. Remember in verse 16-18 of Chapter 14, he said, I’m not going to leave you as orphans, but I’m going to send my spirit, my advocate, my comforter. He will be with you and he will be in you. Meaning, when we go to live in this world knowing that we will face battles, there will be adversity, how can we be successful?

Well if it’s spiritual battle we’re facing, in and of yourself, you won’t. But in the spirit, you will. And in verse 26, he says this: When the helper comes, whom I will send to you from the father, that is the spirit of truth who proceeds from the father, he will testify about me. And you will testify also, because you have been with me from the beginning. And this verse is where I said in the very beginning, look, Satan uses adversity. He loves adversity, but Jesus does too. And Jesus, in that place of adversity, I think his will, his desires to do something far greater, supersedes anything Satan can do. In darkness, God has victorious. That’s the symbol of the cross for us. The darkest of day in history, the greatest of victory for all of humanity, if you would put your faith in Christ. And guys, every battle that we face in life, it becomes that same reminder. What will you lean into? Let Satan pick you off? Or trust in the promises of Christ. Lean into his spirit because he is with you. And it’s not your strength that testifies about the goodness of God, but the spirit of God who works through you.

As a follower of Jesus, I often joke about this in my life, but I feel like I know the symbol of Christianity. We have a few of them, but probably the most popular one is the cross. But I often joke that I feel like mine should be a trash can. And the reason I say that, is because I feel like Jesus often takes me to the places where I feel like throwing up rather than moving forward. It just gets a little nerve wracking sometimes in pursuing Christ. Like, Lord, you really want me to take this step? Okay, let’s go. Right? It’s this leaning into Jesus that feels hard.

But you know, one of the beautiful books I think, in the Bible, when we talk that way in Jesus, is the book of second Corinthians. Second Corinthians is a book that talks a lot about our weakness. Paul reflects on his own weakness in second Corinthians 12, and the first four chapters of the book really open up with weakness. And when you get to chapter 13, listen to this. In verse three, he says this: Who is not weak towards you, but mighty in you? Verse four. But we also are weak in him, yet we will live with him because of the power of God directed toward you. It’s really in our weakness that we start to experience the strength of God. I mean, that’s the tension of the Christian life. It’s the place that we meet the Lord, it’s the place where heaven and earth come together in you. It’s like, you’re walking in this world, this world is contrary to God, but you have the goodness of your King, who Indwells you by the power of his spirit.

And in that struggle, you get to meet with the Lord. I mean, if you’re being honest, in that struggle, that’s sometimes the only time you desire to meet with the Lord, right? Like, oh, a hard time, let’s turn to the Lord very quickly. We run the God in the hard things, don’t we? And it’s in those moments that we’re walking with God in this tension that we try to figure out, okay God, here’s your truth, and these are people that you desire to pursue. How can I honor you? And if you’re being honest with that moment, even though people may see the beauty of God work through you as you seek his face, it’s you that gets the greatest blessing in those moments. Because it’s you in that hardship that has pursued God, to honor God in relationships with others that might have tension, but you got to see God faithful in his promises. It’s you that connected to your creator in the most intimate of ways. It’s you that met with the Lord, knowing that testing your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect work. It’s you that got to meet with the Lord.

The Christian life in this world is a place of tension where heaven and earth collide, but you get to meet with Jesus. This week, I was listening to a quote or a comment by John Piper. Someone asked him, they said, John Piper. And if you don’t know him, that’s okay. He’s a famous pastor, minister. And someone asked him, when you get to those places in life where you don’t know what to do, how do you respond? And I thought, that’s great that John Piper even answered this question. I think John Piper, sometimes we see him on a pedestal and people will be like, there’s never a time where John Piper gets into a place in life where he doesn’t know the biblical answer of what to do, right? John Piper, Jesus, they just got this direct connection that happens here. So God communicates with them and he just automatically knows. But he actually, he answers the question and he talks about being in that tension in life where he’s seeking after God because he doesn’t know the answer. You know who he said he turns to? The word of God. And he said, one of his favorite places to run was the book of Psalms. The book of Psalms is a beautiful place to run because it’s learning how to worship the Lord when life seems hard. That’s a lot of the Psalms.

But he said Psalm 25, for him, is that place where he seeks God in that tension. And just listen to these words. I just thought it was a beautiful place to read to you this morning. He says, to you, oh Lord. Verse one. I lift up my soul. Oh my God, in you I trust. Do not let me be ashamed. Do not let my enemies exalt over me. Indeed, none of those who wait for you will be ashamed. Those who deal treacherously without cause we’ll be ashamed. Make me know ways, oh Lord, teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me. For you are the God of my salvation. For you, I wait all the day. Remember, oh Lord, your compassion and your loving kindness, for they have been from of old. Verse seven. Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions. According to your loving kindness, remember me for your goodness sake, oh Lord. Good and upright is the Lord. Therefore, he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble injustice and he teaches the humble his ways. All the paths of the Lord are loving kindness and the truth to those who keep his covenant and his testimonies for your name’s sake, oh Lord. Pardon mine iniquity, for it is great.

I think it’s just a beautiful Psalm of waiting on God. I think this is what Jesus is saying to us in John 15. We get in that place of tension and we like to panic. We’re trying to figure out the next step. And then we just lead in our flesh. And before you know it, we’ve walked from the Lord. And Jesus is saying to us, look, every Christian has a battle. Rest yourself in truth. Don’t let the world dictate who you are, but continue to live in love and rest in that spirit, God will lead you. God will lead you. Because that’s what the Christian life is. Is, when I make that statement, do you believe it or not? When life gets hard, do you still believe it, or not? Is he who he says he is?

But just for a moment, encourage you without comparing yourself to anyone else. Just you and Jesus, taking a step forward by faith, trusting in him to hold you up. Let me just ask, are you straying under the stress of the world? Are you finding yourself aligning with Christ? Are you afraid that the Lord may not be enough? Or, are you trusting in his promises to be true? The encouragement for this section for us is,. just live in the truth wherever God has you, live in the truth and let the chips fall where they may, because the Lord is strong in our weakness. We’re not in control, but he is.

Let me end with just this story for us. There’s a famous early church father named Ignatius. The reason I picked him this morning, a couple of reasons. One, he was discipled by the apostle John, who wrote the gospel of John. It’s incredible when you read church history, because you can go all the way back to those that were discipled directly by the apostles, and Ignatius as one of them. But one of the crazy things about Ignatius is, really, nothing is known about Ignatius until the end of his life. Last couple of weeks of his life, Ignatius comes onto the church history scene like a rocket, and he goes out like a light in AD 110.

The reason we know about Ignatius in AD 110, he is on his way to Rome for martyrdom. He was a follower of Christ, he was the Bishop in Antioch, he led the church in Antioch. And he’s on his way to Rome for martyrdom. And while he’s on this journey, being taken across the land from the east to the west, he begins to write letters to churches that he passes on his way. He writes seven letters, six of them to churches, one of them to another church leader named Polycarp. But he just starts writing letters to encourage the saints. He encourages him to stand for truth. He encourages them in unity and then he talks about his own faith. And one of the incredible things Ignatius does is the last letter he writes is to Rome. And he writes to Rome before he actually gets to Rome, where he’s going to die in the arena, in the Coliseum. He thinks he’s going to be fed to wild animals in the Coliseum. And he writes to the Christians there. And listen to this. Part of his letter, he says this, I implore you to not be unreasonably kind to me. Let me be food for the wild beasts. Bear with me. I know what is best for me. Now at last, I am begging to be a disciple, may nothing visible or invisible envy me so that I may reach Jesus Christ.

Ignatius is looking at the end of his life and he’s encouraging Christians. He actually encourages them, don’t try to break me out of jail. I don’t want to be broken out of jail. I don’t even want you to look at my position as being so bad that you guys treat me so well that I don’t want to face my martyrdom. I want to go out looking to nothing but Jesus. Ignatius’ life is fully given over to Christ and that’s the way he wants to remember it. And he comes in like a rocket and goes out like a light. But I say all this to say to us, guys, everyone is going to die at some point. Everyone dies at some point, but it’s what you do with the life you’ve been given that counts. Jesus, in these moments, recognizes life has its battles. But when others twist your words, stay true to your foundation. Don’t let the world dictate who you are. Let Christ lead you in love towards others. That you may glorify him, not by your strength, but in your weakness, through the power of his strength made known in you.