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Our Difficult, But Needed Relationship With the World

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Text:  John 15:17 - 16:6


            Everyone who has made a profession of faith in Christ follows a similar path.  We come from the world, we were once friends with the world, but as Christ made a transformation in us, we experience hostility from the world.  For the new Christian, this hostility from those who once were friends is not an easy adjustment.  They may soon find themselves keeping their testimony quiet in order to escape the hostility and rejection.  As we will see in our text, that’s the very thing we don’t want to do.  The Lord needs our testimony to pull even more from the world into His marvelous Kingdom.  Read Text.

Being chosen by God also has its responsibilities.  Some responsibilities can be heavy.  That’s why we need the support of one another to encourage one another when we experience the very thing the world did to Christ.  If you’ve had a difficult time being vocal about your testimony in a hostile world, first of all, don’t be ashamed – we all have!  Second, express the fear and let the dynamics of our group bolster your faith so your can revive your witness with renewed faith.  Let’s be a support to one another through this needed aspect of our walk with Christ.

1.      The command in verse 17 is followed by a statement in verse 18 that like a slap on the cheek – it’s wakes you up.  Is the command to love to be tempered with loving only those we like to love, or is it to include even those that hate us?  Matt. 5:43-47

2.      Describe the dynamics of the kind of love that can love enemies.      How is it different than the world’s love?     What is our resource for this kind of love? 
Insight: We won’t find the resource for such love within our own cistern.  That kind of love comes from above.  As we look to our Lord for our acceptance and love, He will supply the same sacrificial love that held Him to a cross.  Rom. 5:10

3.      V. 19  What is so bad with us that the world hates us? is it really us they are reacting to?  (No, it’s Christ in us they are reacting to.  When they see Christ, they despise us just like they despised Him.)  Jn. 3:20; 7:7; Matt. 5:11; 24:9
Insight: The word “world” that Jesus uses in John 15:19 is “cosmos.”  It is used to refer to our society as it exists without God.  A society without God makes it’s own government and that government will always be hostile against Christ.  Their hostility is rooted in a failure to know God, but more specifically in a fierce anger that flared when Jesus revealed God to them.  As they see Jesus in us, they will react the same way.

4.      When persecution arises, it’s very difficult to maintain your testimony.  There’s many a Peter out there that changes their talk and walk in order not to be identified as being with Jesus.  What’s the encouragement you find in Matt. 10:22 that can help you to maintain your testimony?  (The encouragement is a promise from God the Father!)  Heb. 12:1-3; Rev. 1:10-11; 2:13; 3:10-13

5.      What stumbling block to the faith can come from trying to maintain friendship with the world at the same time as trying to walk with Christ?  Ja. 4:4

6.      Does it help you to maintain your testimony before the world to think of yourself as an alien here?  How so?     What encouragement do you find in 1 Pet. 2:11-12?

7.      Who does Satan wage war with in Rev. 12:17, and why?  (The offspring of the woman {the woman is Israel; her child is Jesus; her offspring are Christians}, and because they keep God’s Word and maintain their testimony about Jesus.)

8.      So how are we to respond to a hostile world?  (The same way Jesus did – by testifying about God.)  15:26
Dear friends, we must not silence our testimony when it gets difficult to identify with Christ.  We are beloved Children of God because those who proceeded us shared their testimony.  That’s what God uses to save them.  God is still choosing believers out of the world because of your testimony.  Wherever the Gospel is heard, the seed is planted for another harvest. 

9.      What does Matt. 13:18-23 teach us about where to share our testimony?  (Broadcast the testimony everywhere, but concentrate your efforts in the good soil for a richer harvest.  Remember, at one time all of us came from the road, the rocky or the thorny soil, and the conviction of the testimony removes the stones and thorns one by one.)

10.  Do you handle things better if you are not caught off guard?     Do you think Jesus is trying to prepare us for the world’s reaction in John 16:1, 41 Pet. 1:6-9

11.  Are we alone when we witness under trying circumstances?  John 15:26-27

12.  How is it that those who might go as far as killing us think they are doing a service to God?  (16:2)  (They may believe a religion opposed to Christianity and therefore consider us infidels, thus killing us would gain God’s favor.)  Acts 22:1-5


            Our section of text ends with Jesus’ words, “But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart.” (16:6)  Indeed, these have been heavy words.  For the fainthearted it can even bring sorrow.  But for the soldier that is briefed of the coming mission and is fully equipped and prepared, they are words that give him advantage.  To know the strategy of the enemy before you get enter the foreign territory is to be one up on him. 

            How has this study helped you in preparing your mindset for what we can expect from this world?     How can you encourage those in this group for the battle that lies ahead?

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