Commanded to Love, Prepared to be Hated: Destroying the Conditions & Expectations We Place On Love

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus the Christ as written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in verses sixteen through thirty-three of the sixteenth chapter. When you come to this particular passage of scripture you will find the third of four chapters in which John uses to recount the words of Jesus on the night He was betrayed coming to a close. Within this sixteenth chapter is a tremendous amount of truth concerning the person and presence of the Holy Spirit—and not only the person and presence of the Holy Spirit, but also about that which the disciples can expect upon the departure of Jesus. If I am being honest with you who are reading the words which are found within this writing I must emphatically declare that one of the most fascinating realities surrounding these chapters found within the gospel of John is not only the great time and effort Jesus took to deposit and pour into His disciples, but also the tremendous amount of time and energy He put into preparing them for the days which were directly ahead of them. I absolutely love how Jesus didn’t merely depart from this world unto His Father who was in heaven and leave the disciples behind bewildered, confused and with more questions than they have Anders. I absolutely love that rather than Jesus simply leaving the disciples behind to encounter and experience that which would come upon both themselves, as well as the early church for themselves, but He deliberately and intentionally took the time to speak to them about what lie ahead and what lie before them. Jesus didn’t merely ascend unto the right hand of the Father and leave the disciples behind to guess at what God was doing among them in their midst. On the night in which Jesus was betrayed—not only did He take the bread and bless and break it, not only did He take the cup of the fruit of the vine and drink it with them, and not only did He wash their feet, but Jesus actually took the time to speak to them about His departure. What’s more, is that even though He knew that sorrow would fill their hearts upon hearing that He would depart from the earth, and even though they would be discouraged to some degree knowing that He was returning unto the Father, Jesus still needed to speak to them concerning His departure and what would lie ahead of and before them. Jesus would take the time to speak with them about the arrival and appearance of the Holy Spirit and what the person and presence of the Comforter and Counsellor would mean and provide for them. Jesus left them—not only with an example to wash each other’s feet, but also to love one another. Even more than this—we find Jesus leaving them with a command to abide in Him, to keep His commandments, and to bear much fruit. On top of all this—Jesus also spoke intentionally unto them about the trials, the struggles and the suffering they would face and experience in this life after He departed from the earth and returned unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven.

As you read the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter—quite honestly that which is found in the previous chapter as well—you will find that in spite of the fact that Jesus commanded the disciples to love one another, He made ready and prepared them to be hated of all nations and of all people’s for His names sake. How absolutely and incredibly interesting it is to think about the fact what while it was true Jesus commanded and even instructed His disciples to love one another, He spent time preparing them for the fact that that love would not be reciprocated and would not be returned. It would have been one thing if Jesus had simply declared unto them that they would not be received of others, however, Jesus took this a step further and declared unto them that they would be hated of all nations and of all people for His name sake. We dare not and cannot miss the incredible truth that surrounds this reality, for to do so would be to miss out on what the Spirit of Christ desires to speak unto us in this generation. There is a tendency to think and even believe that while we are and have been commanded to love one another that love will be reciprocated and we will he received by others. The truth of the matter is that Jesus never once promised that when we live one another and when we love others we would in turn find love. I am convinced that one of the great dangers we face in this life is knowing and being aware of the fact that we have been commanded to love another and somehow expecting others to live us in return. How many men and women spend their days walking through this life expecting those whom they love and Rhode they have been commanded to love to respond in kind and demonstrate love toward them? How many men and women know and understand that we have been commanded to love one another and we have been commanded to love others-/even our enemies—and we will somehow receive that love back in return? Furthermore, we might expect and even anticipate that when we love our enemies they of course might and even will not love us back, but what about those those aren’t our enemies and those who are our neighbors? Even more than this, it might be possible that we even think and expect that when we love our enemies they will come face to face with and encounter the love we have demonstrated and displayed, and will somehow respond in kind? Oh how many men and women have been disillusioned and disheartened simply because they had an expectation that they would love others, and when they lived others they would be loved and received in return?

I sit here this morning and I can’t help but be brought face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that while it is true that Jesus commanded and instructed us to love one another, He also deliberately and intentionally prepared us to be hated. In other words, you might very well say that Jesus prepared us to love without the expectation and hope of receiving nothing in return. If you are truly being honest with yourself and with the Holy Spirit you must come to the conclusion that while you and I have been commanded to love one another, we have been taught and prepared to love without hoping, anticipating and even expecting any in return. In all reality, it’s almost as if Jesus was instructing and commanding the disciples to love one another—and evening love their enemies—and yet in that same breath and in that same sentence He declared unto them to expect nothing in return. Oh how there are men and women who may very well love others, and in the process of loving others they expect and even demand love in return. There are men and women among us who might not have any problem loving others, and might not even have a problem loving their enemies if they know that love will not only be received but will also be returned. There is not a doubt in my mind that while it is true that Jesus did in fact command and instruct the disciples to love one another and to love their enemies, He also in the same breath prepared them to be hated. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus prepare them to be hated, but Jesus prepared them to be hated of all nations of all people. It would have been one thing if Jesus had said that they would be hated of nations, or even some nations, but Jesus said and declared that they would be hated of all nations. It would have been one thing for Jesus to say and declare unto them that they would be hated of people or of something people, however, that which Jesus actually spoke and declared was that they would be hated of all people. Please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this reality, for to do so would be to position yourself to be disappointed and disheartened in this life as you walk with Christ. The great truth surrounding live and loving one another and our enemies is that the other side of that coin is hatred—and not only hatred, but knowing that we are going to be hated of nations and people alike for the sake of the name of Christ. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—have you been living your life loving others and expecting to receive that love in return? Have you spent your days living your neighbors and living your enemies, and in the same breath and sentence you somehow expect that love to be reciprocated unto and upon you? The more I read the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples the more I can’t help but come face to face with the reality that the command to love was indeed and was in fact given, however, the other side of the command to love is the preparation to be hated of all nations and all people for the sake of the name of Christ.

I find it absolutely and incredibly interesting and intriguing to think about and consider the fact that when you read the words found within these chapters of the gospel written by John, you will fine at the beginning of the sixteenth chapter the apostle speaking of offense and being offended in Christ. When you read the opening words found within the sixteenth chapter of the gospel written by John you will find the apostle writing and speaking of being and becoming offended in Christ, and allowing ourselves to be offended in the face of hatred and persecution and suffering. As you read the words found at the beginning of the sixteenth chapter you will find Jesus explaining unto the disciples that He had spoken these things unto them with one singular and one particular reason in mind—namely, that they should and would not be offended. This reality and concept of being offended comes directly on the heels of Jesus speaking unto the disciples concerning the world hating them, and their being hated of all nations and people for the sake of His name. Before we even come to the opening words of the sixteenth chapter we are met with the tremendous reality that Jesus spoke unto the disciples on two separate occasions concerning the fact that despite the fact that they were commanded and instructed to love one another and even to love their enemies, they were being prepared to be hated. I fully recognize and realize that this might seem like something that is completely contrary to what we have been taught and what has been preached among us in the house of the Lord, however, the truth of the matter is that we do ourselves a great disservice when we seek to love one another, when we seek to love our neighbors, and when we seek to love others and somehow expect that love to be returned and reciprocated. We do ourselves a great disservice when we agree to love others on the one while on the other hand expecting to be loved in return. LOVE WITH CONDITIONS! LOVE WITH EXPECTATIONS! If there is one thing we must recognize and understand is that by preparing us to be hated and by preparing us to be persecuted, afflicted, and even to not be received by others, Jesus was essentially removing and tempering the expectation for love with expectations. If we are willing to be honest with ourselves and be honest with each other we must admit that we might be willing to love if we know and are somehow guaranteed that that love will be returned and will somehow be reciprocated. We might very well be willing to love one another and might very well be willing to love others if we have some type of guarantee that we can and will receive that same degree and measure of love in return. We might very well be willing to love others, and we might very well be willing to love our neighbors if we know and are guaranteed that love will be returned within our lives and given unto us—even if not to the same degree and measure in which we love them.

The more I read and consider the words which Jesus the Christ spoke unto the disciples the more I can’t help but come face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that with the words spoken unto the disciples on this night—as well as the words which were spoken concerning the Last Days—Jesus essentially and effectively removes the expectation that we can and somehow will and should receive love in return within this life. I find this concept of loving with conditions and loving with expectations to be entirely accurate, for how many times have we as the people of God agreed to love one another, and even love our neighbors whom we don’t know, and yet we do so with expectations and conditions within our heart. We outwardly display and demonstrate love toward them, however, inwardly within our hearts and minds we expect and even anticipate love in return. We might not have a problem loving others, and we might not have a problem with loving our neighbors as ourselves if we are somehow guaranteed that love will be returned and reciprocated. There is not a doubt in my mind that one of the greatest truths surrounding the preparation of the disciples to be hated of all nations and of all people for His name sake is that it effectively removes the conditions and expectations surrounding love. If we are commanded to love one another, if we are commanded to love our neighbors, and if we are commanded to love our enemies, and yet we are also being prepared to be hated by all nations and all people, it radically and dramatically shapes how we love and who we love. Tell me—when was the last time you loved and loved without condition and without expectation? When was the last time you truly loved without condition and expectation—not only others, and not only your neighbors, but also your enemies? How often do you truly put into practice within your heart and life loving others as Jesus has loved you, and you do so without any expectation or preconceived condition that has been formulated within your mind? How often do you devote yourself to loving others and loving your neighbor without expecting anything in return? One of the great dangers we face is that we are somehow willing to love others, yet we have these deep and inner expectation that we will somehow be loved in return and in response. We have no problem demonstrating and displaying love toward others, and yet that love is met with an expectation—perhaps even a demand—to be loved in return and loved in response. Oh there are men and women among us within our Christian circles, and within our churches who might very well have no quarrel or issue with loving others, and with loving their neighbors and their enemies, and yet there is this great expectation that that love will be returned and reciprocated. What’s more, is that there is this disappointment, this frustration, this anger, and perhaps even this offense and bitterness when that love is not returned to the same degree and measure with which it was given.

I find it absolutely necessary that before we delve further into the words which were spoken by Jesus and recorded in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel of John, we turn and direct our attention back to the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter. As you read the words contained in the fifteenth chapter of this gospel you will come face to face with the command to love one another, and yet as surely as we have been commanded to love one another we have also been prepared to be hated. If you begin reading with and from the ninth verse of the fifteenth chapter you will quickly encounter the reality that not only did Jesus speak unto the disciples about continuing in His love, but He would also transition to speaking unto them about being hated of all nations and of all people for His name’s sake. If we are going to understand that which is found in the sixteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John we must turn and direct our attention to the words found in the fifteenth chapter, for it’s in the fifteenth chapter where we are not only confronted with the truth of continuing in the love of Jesus, but also loving others and loving one another. What we find in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel of John is not only the command and instruction to love one another, but also in the midst of and while we are loving one another we are also being hated by all nations and all people. Oh dear reader please don’t miss and lose sight of this reality, for to do so would be to set the wrong expectation surrounding our willingness to love one another and loving others. Consider if you will the words which were spoken by Jesus the Christ which were recorded by the apostle John beginning with the ninth verse of the fifteenth chapter:

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (John 15:9)

“If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in His love” (John 15:10).

“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

“Greater love hath no man that’s this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

“These things I command you, that ye love one another” (John 15:17).

It’s with these words which we encounter Jesus the Christ speaking unto His disciples on the night in which He was Himself betrayed by one of His own that He commanded and instructed them to love one another. It is with these words we find Jesus the Christ speaking unto His disciples and instructing and commanding them to love one another even as He had indeed loved them and demonstrated love toward them. What begins with Jesus instructing and commanding them to continue in His love and abide in His love would eventually and ultimately transition to Jesus commanding them not once, but twice to love one another. What’s more, is that not only did Jesus instruct and command them to love one another, but He commanded and instructed them to love one another even as He Himself had loved them. In other words, it wasn’t enough for the disciples to love others, but they were to love others even as Jesus loved them. The degree and measure in which they loved others was not their own choosing and their own making, but rather based on the example which Jesus Himself had set for them. Just as Jesus had washed their feet and based on that example of washing their feet they were to go and wash one another’s feet, so also just as Jesus had loved them they were to go and love one another as He had loved them. What these words speak of and suggest is not only that they were commanded and instructed to love one another, but also that Jesus did in fact love them. With these words Jesus emphatically proclaims and declares unto the disciples that He did in fact love them, and if you turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the thirteenth chapter you will find the apostle John writing how Jesus not only loved those who were His own, but He loved them unto and until the end. Oh please don’t miss and please don’t lose sight of this tremendous and incredible reality, for to do so would be to miss out on the absolutely incredible reality surrounding the love which Jesus has toward us, as well as our command to love one another. It is true we have been commanded to love one another, but that love is not to be based on any earthly example of love we have witnessed firsthand. There is a tendency and temptation to use earthly examples of love as the basis and model for how we love and how we demonstrate and manifest love unto others, and yet nowhere in Scripture do we find that to be the case. It might be argued that when Jesus delivered the parable of the Good Samaritan that that was somehow an earthly example of loving others, yet what we must recognize and understand concerning the parable of the Good Samaritan was that it was a demonstration and illustration of the love we are to have toward and unto those we have been called to love and to serve. Within the parable of the Good Samaritan—not only do we find a wonderful and powerful example and demonstration of love, but also a wonderful and powerful example of serving others. The ultimate crux of the matter is that when we speak of loving one another, and when we speak of loving our neighbor—even our enemies—we are instructed to love as Jesus the Christ loved us, and as Jesus the Christ demonstrated and manifested love before us within our lives.

As you continue reading the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter you will find that immediately following Jesus speaking of loving one another He transitions to what appears to be something that is so contrary and so far removed from what He has commanded and instructed us. If there is one thing we must recognize and understand it’s that while Jesus has commanded His disciples to love one another, and while Jesus has commanded His disciples to love their neighbors and enemies, there is no such command that was given unto our enemies, nor even those who were present in the world. Nowhere in Scripture, nor is there anywhere in the gospels where you find Jesus commanding the world to love the Church, nor is there anywhere where we find Jesus speaking unto the world and instructing and commanding it to love the Church as He had loved the world. In all reality, that which we find is the exact and complete opposite, for while we don’t find Jesus instructing and commanding the world to love the church, we do find Jesus declaring and speaking of the world that they cannot and will not receive us. What’s more, is that Jesus would explain to the disciples that just as the world did not and could not receive Him, nor His Father, so also the world would not receive them. If the world did not receive Jesus the Christ but instead rejected and despised Him, then the same reality holds true for the disciples of Jesus the Christ, as they themselves would also not be received and would even be rejected. What’s more is that while you find Jesus speaking unto and commanding the disciples to love one another, we find Him declaring unto them that that love must not come with any expectations and conditions, for although we might demonstrate and display love toward others, we must naturally expect that love to not be reciprocated and returned. Within the fifteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John we find Jesus instructing and commanding the disciples to love one another, and yet directly linked and connected to the disciples loving one another, they were being prepared to be hated by all nations and all people for the sake of the name of Christ. OH it is absolutely necessary and imperative that we get and understand this, for how differently would we live and love if we had no expectations nor conditions surrounding our love? How much different would our love be toward others and even toward our enemies if we knew and understood that we would not be loved in return, and the same degree and measure of love we demonstrated toward them would not be returned unto us? Oh I am convinced that if we properly condition ourselves, and if we properly temper our expectations regarding love that even though we might love one another, and even though we might love our neighbors and enemies, that love will most likely not be returned and reciprocated. If you know and understand that you have been commanded to love others and yet directly linked and connected to loving others and even loving your enemies you know that you are going to be hated, would you choose to continue in that love, or would you somehow choose to withdraw and retreat within yourself?

If there is one thing I can’t help but be convinced of as I sit here this morning, it’s that there is a tendency and temptation to withdraw and retreat within ourselves when we demonstrate and display love and somehow don’t find that same degree and measure of love in return. I k now from personal experience and my own self awareness that if I seek to demonstrate and manifest love toward others and don’t find or experience that love in return, I tend to withdraw and retreat within myself and cancel any future demonstration of love. I know enough about myself to know that if I demonstrate and if I display love toward another and that love is somehow not returned and/or even reciprocated, I tend to withdraw and retreat within myself and cease demonstrating that love. Oh sure I know and sure I understand that I have been commanded to love others, and to love my neighbor, and even to love my enemies, and yet if I find the degree and measure of love that I have sought to display unto others is not being received and/or even being returned, I tend to withdraw and retreat within myself. The truth of the matter is that how I have been living my life is so counter intuitive and so counter gospel that it has great need of correction and refinement. One of the greatest dangers we as the disciples of Jesus the Christ face is that we might be willing to love others, and we might be willing to love others even as Jesus has in fact loved us, and yet we expect that love to be returned upon and unto us. I am convinced there are men and women who aren’t living a true and authentic gospel reality, for they might agree to love others and to even love their enemies, and yet they expect that love to be reciprocated and returned. Even if that love is not returned to the same degree and measure in which it is meted out and given, it is still given back to some degree and measure. Oh, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus spoke when He emphatically declared that we are to give without any expectation of receiving anything in return. If you read the gospels you will find it spoken of and declared by Jesus the Christ that when we give—even if we give of ourselves—we are to expect absolutely nothing in return. The problem we face is that we might very well be willing to give, and yet even when we give we somehow expect something to be given in return. LOVE ON LEND! BORROWED LOVE! What I mean by these statement is that there are times when you will lend money and/or resources out unto another and by doing so you expect that to be returned unto you—perhaps even with interest. When you borrow from a bank—regardless of whether it’s to purchase a house, or a car, or a boat, or whatever you might have within your heart—you not only borrow with the bank’s expectation to pay it back, but you also borrow with a certain percentage of interest added on to the amount you have borrowed. When you borrow in this generation you never borrow without the expectation to pay back what you have borrowed and to pay back what you have borrowed with interest.

I mentioned “borrowed love” and “love on the lend,” for how many times have we agreed to give love unto others, yet we expect that love to be paid back and paid back with interest. How many of us not only seek to have love paid back to us, but we also expect it to be paid back with interest? Oh, we find ourselves in a great and dangerous place when we lend out love and when we treat love as though it is something to be borrowed and somehow paid back unto us. We live a life that is so contrary to and counter gospel when we treat love as though it is something that is to be lended out unto others and somehow paid back unto us with interest. What’s more, is that we somehow place a higher rate of return on the love we somehow should receive back than we even gave out to begin with. Oh dear brother, and dear sister—if you are one who has been guilty of lending out love, and if you have been one that has treated love as though it is something that is borrowed and paid back with interest, you are living your life so contrary to the gospel that you run the risk of not only being offended, but also growing and becoming bitter toward others, and even toward God Himself. I sit here this morning and I can’t help but think of the awesome and incredible reality that when we give we are to give without expecting anything in return. When we give we are expected and commanded to give without any demand or expectation of anything in return. Oh that we would get and understand this within the very depths of our heart and soul, for to do so would be to truly understand the gospel and to understand the reality surrounding loving one another, loving our neighbors, and even loving our enemies. There is not a doubt in my mind that there is actually something truly gracious and merciful about Jesus declaring unto the disciples that they will be hated of all nations and of all people, and for His setting the expectation that such a reality can and will exist in this life. I firmly believe that there is actually something truly merciful and gracious about being commanded to love one another and to be hated of all nations and all people, for if we prepare ourselves to be hated of others rather than be loved, it frees us of any expectations and conditions we have surrounding love. If we truly recognize and understand that while it is true we have been commanded to love, yet we have been prepared to be hated of all nations and all people, it has the ability to temper our expectations surrounding love and truly frees us to love without borders, to love without limits, and to love without conditions. Consider if you will the words which were spoken by Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed by one of His own as He spoke unto the disciples about loving one another, and yet immediately following the command to love one another, there was the preparation to be hated of nations and people for the sake of His name:

“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19).

“He that hateth me hateth my Father also. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now they have both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:23-25).

With these words Jesus emphatically speaks unto and declares unto the disciples that they will be hated because they are not of the world, but have been chosen out of the world. Oh, Jesus left the disciples in the world despite choosing them out of the world, and yet while leaving them behind in the world He declared unto them they would be hated. Despite the fact that they were given the command to love one another, and despite the fact they were commanded to love their neighbor and their enemy, they would be hated—not only because the world hated Jesus, but because they were chosen out of the world and called unto Jesus the Christ. If you read the words which Jesus spoke unto the disciples when speaking unto them concerning the Last Days you will find that Jesus declared unto them that not only would they be delivered up to be afflicted, and might very well be killed, but they would be hated of all nations for His name’s sake. It would be in direct response to their being afflicted and hated that many would become offended, and would betray one another. Oh, I can’t help but look at Jesus’ words concerning betraying one another and how it appears to be intrinsically connected to becoming offended, for within the gospels we find Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus the Christ. What if the main and underlying reason Judas betrayed Jesus the Christ was because he had grown and become offended in and with Christ, and it was in direct response to that offense He sought to betray Jesus? Jesus spoke of many becoming offended, and then went on to speak of many betraying one another, and I can’t help but see a strong and intrinsic link between growing and becoming offended, and how offense is more often than not the grounds for betrayal, and even betraying those who we were once close to. There is not a doubt in my mind that Judas had become bitter with Jesus the Christ, and it was from that place of bitterness Judas sought to betray Jesus into the hands of His enemies and adversaries. Jesus spoke of being hated of all nations, and spoke of becoming offended, and then spoke of betrayal, and there is a part of me that feels Judas was unwilling to sign up for being hated of all nations, and Judas wasn’t willing to walk this type of life, and as a direct result of that which was present within his heart, he grew and became offended in and with Jesus the Christ. What’s more, is that it would be from that place of offense Judas would ultimately and inevitably betray Jesus the Christ into the hands of His enemies and adversaries. Oh that we would read and consider the words which are found within this passage and would examine our own hearts—not only concerning and regarding our own expectations surrounding love, but also whether or not we have somehow grown and become offended in Christ and become offended with God because of the life we have been called to live in this life. When we read the words which are found in the sixteenth chapter of the gospel written by the apostle John we notice that it begins with Jesus speaking of offense and concluding with Jesus speaking of the reality that in this world we will have tribulation, but in the midst of, and in spite of having tribulation we are to be of good cheer for He has overcome the world. Oh that we would read the words found and contained within this chapter and would come face to face with the borders, boundaries, conditions and expectations we have place don love, and whether or not we are lending love as though it is something that can somehow be borrowed and paid back with interest.

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