April 20, 2016
READ: John 15:16-27
The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you (v.19).
While on vacation, my daughter and I strolled on the beach in the cool of the evening. Interrupting her mid—sentence, I tapped her arm and pointed. “Look over there!” What appeared to be sand moving back and forth proved—upon closer inspection—to be a tiny crab scuttling across the beach. Its beige color, tiny size, and quick reflexes provided protection against being seen, much less caught. The small creature wanted to survive, not stand out.
Jesus has called us to stand out for Him, something that can lead to fruitfulness, love, and hate. When we read Jesus’ words in John 15:16—18, we may wonder how these three things can be linked. For instance, if we love and we’re fruitful, why should we expect to be hated? (v.19). The opening portion of John 15:16, however, provides the context for our understanding. God has called us to be visible on Earth, for we’re part of His kingdom being established here (Matthew 6:10). In other words, we’re created to proclaim His glory (Psalm 66:2).
Cultures around the world encourage people to blend in and follow designated customs. And the prevailing mindset of the day is the desire for self—preservation and selfpromotion via the approval of others. Believers in Jesus, however, can follow His lead and influence culture instead of looking to it for identity (John 15:19).
We can’t live fully for Jesus if we’re too busy running for cover by trying to simply fit in. Rather than blending in to protect our well—being, let’s follow Him and His principles, loving others and not requiring them to love us in return (John 13:34—35). And if by standing for Christ we stand out, may He be honored and lives changed!
365-day-plan: 1 Kings 19:1-21
Read Matthew 5:11—18 and think about the various parts of your life (work, home, leisure). Consider the specific decisions you can make to be “salt” and “light” in these places.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt vulnerable because your beliefs differed from those around you? How did you respond? What does it mean to stand for Jesus instead of blending in?