This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you… If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”

It’s easy for Christians to get into fights in this world. Of course it is – the world loves a good fight. It’s easy to pick a group or tribe or team and know precisely who the the people are that you are supposed to hate. And even we Christians are tempted to jump into the worldly fray, all full of anger and us versus them thinking.

But that’s not what Jesus is talking about when He warns that the world will hate you. Hating people, grousing and complaining, biting and devouring them – that has nothing to do with Christ. That has nothing to do with the Spirit and His fruit. Now, loving folks. Being kind and gracious and forgiving, even and especially to the people who don’t deserve it (as if any of us deserve it), that’s Christ’s goal. That’s what He has done for you and us – for while we were yet sinners Christ Jesus died for us.

We are called to love. Think on the 10 commandments in the Small Catechism, all the good things we are to do for our neighbors. Those are things we are to do even for (dare I say especially for) people who aren’t for our “tribe” or opinion. We’re called to love the neighbor.

And you won’t get thanked for it. You won’t be praised for it. And people will take advantage of your kindness and laugh at you for being a sucker and a rube. That should be no surprise. They did the exact same thing to Jesus. But you are a new creation in Christ, forgiven and redeemed. You have life in His name, life that is lived for the good of your neighbor, even the neighbor who doesn’t appreciate it. It will just happen, because in Christ you will bear fruit. You are no longer part of the world’s games of hate and factionalism and disdain, for Christ Jesus has claimed you and redeemed you, and if the world doesn’t like that, so be it. Thanks be to God, you belong to Him.

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