To Love Like Jesus Does

Jesus was not delusional about human nature. He did not view people as “basically good” but made bad by society. The Scriptures tell us,

But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. ~ John 2:24-25

Elsewhere, Jesus states plainly,

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. ~ John 7:7

Nevertheless, Jesus has a profound love for people. Mind you, He does not love the sinfulness (the selfish, self-indulgent, God-defiant part of us). Yet, He loves and values the actual person of individuals. Consider just a few instances. 

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. ~ Matthew 9:36

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” ~ John 8:10-11

After a night of betrayal, abandonment, mockery, torture, scourging, and then after being nailed to a cross for several more hours of excruciating pain and asphyxiation, only to lift the following prayer for his tormentors:

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” ~ Luke 23:34

Humanity, being created in the image of God, is not completely void of compassion, kindness, or sacrifice. While the news continually blasts us with humanity’s depravity, we still hear stories of its reflections of the image of whom it bears: a youth helping a senior up some stairs; citizens surrounding a police officer to protect him during a riot; or a person rushing into a burning building to rescue another.

The love with which Jesus loves, however, is of such an unattainable caliber that we are unable to possess and distribute it apart from abiding in the very Source of such love. In fact, many of those who profess to belong to God do not have such love for others. Mind you, I do not profess that I possess this love, so rich and pure. 

Our world will continue to sing and write about love, but will always fall short of genuine love’s grandeur. The highest and purest form of love (Gk. agape) is defined in the Bible:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

The only way to genuinely display this selfless and sacrificial love is to be connected to the Source of this love (Christ) and continually being filled with His Holy Spirit.

Indeed, to err is human, and we know this all too well. But to love like Jesus does is truly a work of the Divine within. I admit, I am not there yet. Perhaps you are not either. May we draw close and abide in Christ because of our own obvious deficiencies, but our world is in serious need of the purest love that He provides.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. ~ John 15:1-5

The Challenge

Typically, challenges and competition feed our egos. Who does not like to have points added to the “one up on you” scoreboard? So it might seem surprising to receive a challenge from the apostle Paul. In one of his letters to believers, he writes,

Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. ~ Romans 12:10

Did you catch that? Outdo one another in showing honor. “What? Are you kidding me?” some will say. But think about it, what would happen if each of us tried to outdo one another in showing honor, giving respect, displaying brotherly love? Each of us would receive honor, respect, and love. Each of us would be granted help, encouragement, patience, and the benefit of the doubt. Furthermore, if each of us tried to outdo one another showing honor, we would not have to be concerned about being cheated. It is a win-win situation where each person benefits.

I double dog dare you to outdo showing honor to others. And if you truly want to be a master, let us up the ante. The fact of the matter is we live in a world where people do not strive to outdo showing honor. Some people are outright mean. Yet Paul tells us to repay no one evil for evil, because God will deal with them in due time. But another challenge is given: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).

Are you up for the challenge?

The Tool of the Tongue

“Sticks and stones … but words will never hurt me,” we used to say, but we know that it is not true. In fact, many are emotionally crippled from words spoken many years ago. Broken bones have healed and scarred, but the heart is still wounded and bleeding from angry words or cruel jesting spoken yesteryears. And time does not heal all wounds.

The Bible tells us,

Death and life are in the power of the tongue. ~ Proverbs 18:21

How many have been so deeply wounded, and parts of them killed, because of words? We casually speak hurtful words, dismissing the seriousness of any wounds or consequences. We justify our anger,  as we delight in another’s hurt feelings. “The idiots deserve it,” we say. We jest and make fun because it makes us, somehow, feel superior. We claim, “It was only a joke, they need to get over it!” Even though another was verbally and emotionally abused and molested; they were humiliated and shamed, pieces of them robbed and broken. Death is in the power of the tongue. So is it any wonder Jesus tells us,

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, “You fool!” will be liable to the hell of fire. ~ Matthew 5:21-22

Elsewhere, Jesus says,

But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. ~ Matthew 15:18-19

Obviously, there is nothing intrinsically evil about the tongue. Like a rock, knife, machete, or nail gun, the tongue is but a tool. If used properly, it has the potential of such beneficial good. However, if misused, it can do unbelievable damage. In fact, Jesus equates abusive speech with murder, and tells us the words we speak reveal what is already filling the heart (murder, adultery, theft, etc.).

James writes of the destructive wickedness of the tongue in his short epistle:

How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire!  And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. ~ James 3:5-6

Consider all the malicious, abusive, and slanderous talk permeating and  being absorbed throughout our society and world on social media, in our schools, in political arenas, etc. This is not simply venting. Much of it truly is murderous and violent, creating such division and flames set ablaze by hell.

May God help each of us to learn to control our tongues, and to start using them for healing and mending. Have we not seen and heard enough destructive talk?

The Anatomy of Love

Our society talks a lot about love. It is portrayed in movies, sang about in songs, placed on t-shirts (eg., “I [heart] _____”), and painted on posters (e.g., “Give love a chance” “Make love, not war”). But the love of the world is, too often, romanticized and superficial. After all, many in Hollywood know nothing of devoted commitment of the characters they portray. Music celebrities are often known for their activities with groupies after the gigs. T-shirts are mere pieces of cloth, and those at protest rallies with posters crying out for love are often vessels of hatred, spewing out, “Burn in hell!” Die, you pigs!” “Damn you!” to all who disagree with their position.

The world’s version(s) of love is childish, fairy-tale make believe. The world’s version is like a marshmallow, a squishy puff of sugar. However, authentic love has substance of bone and flesh, so to speak, having an actual anatomy.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Now, let’s consider briefly the anatomy, or structure, of love:

Patient (or long-suffering) – love bears with other’s differences, quirks, and mistakes without becoming quickly annoyed or rejecting hastily.

Kind – love is gentle and benevolent.

Content – love is not competitive; it is not envious when someone else has nor does it boast when someone else does not have.

Humble – love views others with equality of worth; it does not show partiality nor is it filled with contempt for others. Love does not feel superior to others.

Selfless – love does not demand its own way but considers the needs and wants of others. 

Levelheaded / Forgiving – love does not keep tally each time another fails, demanding absolute perfection. Love does not nurse a grudge to keep such bitterness alive.

Righteous / Honest – love does not not delight in evil or harm of others, nor does it take any delight in falsehood, gossip, or slander.

When fleshed out, love has real substance. Genuine love is not for the weak. Any fool can get angry, be rude, refuse to forgive, or desire harm to another. Any fool can scream profanities and derogatory statements in the midst of a rally. And any fool can look upon another with such contempt and hatred easily enough. 

It is easy to betray a friendship when one does not get his or her own way. It is easy to curse another rather than taking the time to understand them. However, what is hard, what is extremely difficult, is having genuine benevolence for others simply because they are human beings, regardless if they are like us, or attractive to us, or even kind toward us.

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good …Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. ~ Romans 12:9, 13-21

In the Person of Jesus Christ we have the perfect example of genuine love put into action. Jesus was kind and welcoming to the misfits and outcasts; He was gentle with people’s failures and shortcomings. While the Scriptures do show He was angry on a few occasions, it was always in connection with people’s hypocrisy, injustice, and hard-heartedness towards others; ironically, He prayed for forgiveness concerning those who persecuted and crucified Him.

Genuine love is both benevolent and sacrificial for the sake of others. For all the talk and portrayals of love in our society, do these correspond with reality? How can it when we are so busy flinging mud, refusing to see any common ground; when we have such disdain for others whose political leanings are different than ours; when the “end justifies the means” while destroying others, regardless of any deception or smoke and mirrors, as if injustice can bring about justice?

My friend, love is hard. It requires courage to lower the defenses and resolve to put off our egos. It requires humility to “turn the other cheek” and to consider the needs of others. It requires commitment to hang tight when every part of you simply wants to let go. Only as we are willing to become weak will we truly become strong.

“Hell no! That’s stupid! I’m not humbling myself for nobody!” many will say. Ah, but this is precisely why we are in the mangled, divided mess we are in today. Nevertheless, unless we are willing to humble our own selves, extend kindness, meet on some common ground, and treat others with courtesy and respect, we might as well throw away our banners and burn our placards extolling love and unity. For there is no other way these can be attained. We must study the anatomy of love and put into practice its various elements. Cursing, force, and violence will only  produce more unrest, keeping us in the mangled, bloody mess we are in. Only genuine love will lead us to a productive peace and unity we claim to desire.

I Am A Patriot, but . . .

I am a patriot, but above this I am a Christian, a citizen of the kingdom of Jesus Christ. No, I don’t like seeing what is happening in our country, but I also know this hasn’t “just happened.” For years, as a country, we have defied and denied God in politics, entertainment, media, education, science, and even in many churches. Personally, I believe we, as a nation, have been experiencing judgment for quite some time (read Romans 1). Not only has the world rolled more deeply in the mire, but how much have we, as Christians, prayed and pleaded for revival and awakening? You hardly hear the words anymore.

With this said, our God remains sovereign. We can become irate, join together, and lift our guns and voices, but our efforts will come to nothing if, in fact, we are simply striving against God’s judgments. Oh, that God will give us hearts of wisdom in these dangerous days. Fellow citizens, of both America and Christ’s kingdom, we must humble ourselves, pray, repent, etc. Furthermore, whatever happens (which it might get really bad), we are still to be light in the darkness, salt amidst all the rot, balm for the hurting, and evangelists to the lost, directing (and praying—even for our adversaries and persecutors) them to the Lord who died for us all.

We desperately need the wisdom and love of Christ. With all that is happening in our country and world, may the Holy Spirit help us to respond appropriately, to not lose our heads but to remember our higher priority must always be to Christ and His kingdom, regardless what happens in the here and now, come hell or high water.

Let us bow our knees and hearts, lift our gaze, pray, and seek His face. Apart from these no good can come from our anger (see James 1:20).

Our Desperate Need for Wisdom

We, as a people, are in desperate need for wisdom. Our nation is so divided and wounded, yet we continue to behave like a bunch of monkeys flinging poo at one another, then wonder why we are in such a filthy, stinking mess.

Wisdom does not just happen. That is, persons are not simply born “wise.” Furthermore, wisdom is more than simply being smart or correct. There is an abundance of intellectual, sophisticated fools. Washington, Hollywood, and universities give ample evidence of this. Authentic wisdom is substantial and produces certain results.

Consider, and take the following words of James to heart, and think through the applications and consider what is going on in the world around us.

Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom.  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. ~ James 3:13-18

At first read it would appear as if James is talking about two kinds of wisdom, but he is not. He is describing what true wisdom is versus what is falsely so called. Notice, authentic wisdom is substantial in character. The truly wise are good in conduct and meek in spirit. Whereas the false wisdom of the age is bitter, jealous, and filled with selfish ambition.

Now, consider the effects, or results, of these. False wisdom is also false to the truth, and is earthly, unspiritual—even demonic. No wonder it produces disorder and every vile practice. Authentic wisdom, on the other hand, is pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, merciful, impartial (just), and sincere. True wisdom produces righteousness and peace.

What are we witnessing today? Do we see civility and reasonable discourse? Certainly not! We see constant mudslinging and strife by persons and groups hellbent on getting their own way, disregarding what is beneficial to the whole. Truth is trampled on and mocked, although we talk about love, peace, and unity. Yet, even genuine love is:

Is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-6

Did you catch that? Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Our society constantly applauds lying politicians and news outlets that withhold or distort the truth—so long as they promote our ideas and agendas. No matter whose reputations or lives are ripped asunder. And we wonder why our nation is in the wretched state she is in?

Going back to wisdom, before James talked about wisdom and the falsely so called, earlier he writes,

Let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20

Then, later James writes,

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you?You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! ~ James 1:1-4

Does this not sound like a description of our country and our world? We are in desperate need of wisdom. But how can we begin to attain it? Before discrediting what I am about to share, consider this: are our methods helping matters? Do our methods not injure a lot of people—even the innocent—and further promote more injustices? Many of us are “wise in our own eyes,” but we are not wise, my friends. This is clearly made evident by the results of our actions. So then, how are we to attain wisdom?

Let the wise hear and increase in learning. ~ Proverbs 1:5

First, we must step back and be willing to listen and to learn.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. ~ Proverbs 1:7

It is astonishing to me how our society mocks the Christian faith relentlessly, then wonders how our government, schools, and communities are in the conditions they are in. If one mocks or denies love, faithfulness, truth, peacefulness, life, and the like, then he opens himself to hatred, betrayal, deception, strife, death, and the like. This is not rocket science, but it is amazing how such simplicity is overlooked.

My friends, I am showing the way of hope. The principles I am sharing not only work, but are secured on the solid foundation of truth. God offers us His wisdom and Himself; yet, if we continue to resist and reject Him, then we must also suffer the consequences of the law of cause and effect.

“How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing and fools hate knowledge? If you turn at my reproof, behold, I will pour out my spirit to you; I will make my words known to you. ~ Proverbs 1:22-23

Because they hated knowledge and did not choose the fear of the Lord, would have none of my counsel and despised all my reproof, therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way, and have their fill of their own devices. For the simple are killed by their turning away, and the complacency of fools destroys them; but whoever listens to me will dwell secure and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.” ~ Proverbs 1:29-33

Our scoffing at God and hating the knowledge of Him has not benefited us at all. So why do we hold so tightly to these?

Does Jesus’ Skin Color Matter?

I am somewhat humored when people debate Jesus Christ’s skin color. Not very long ago a man decried the belief in a “white” Jesus, as this is merely a form of “white supremacy.” Now, I doubt Jesus was white or black, considering He was a Galilean Jew. Regardless, I would have liked to ask the man decrying Jesus’ “whiteness” if he was living his life for Jesus. While it is doubtful Jesus was either white or black, it is certain He was not American, European, or African. He was neither Republican nor Democrat. No group of people can ever lay claim to Jesus as if He was some sort of beast to be tamed.

Let’s say Jesus was either white or black, does it matter? Either way He calls you and I to repent of sin (our sins might be quite different, but it is still sin). He commands us to love God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength; furthermore, to love our neighbor as ourself (see Luke 10:27). He calls us to take up our cross and follow Him; to forgive those who have sinned against us; to love our enemies and pray for our persecutors; and to treat others the way we want to be treated. None of these are color or ethnic issues. Regardless of His skin color, are we obeying Him and abiding in Him?

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes seven “I am” statements:

  • I am the bread of life (6:35)
  • I am the light of the world (8:12)
  • I am the door (10:9)
  • I am the good shepherd 10:14)
  • I am the resurrection and the life (11:25)
  • I am the way, and the truth, and the life (14:6)
  • I am the true vine (15:1)

No matter the tone of His pigmentation, Jesus makes some radical declarations. Furthermore, His color is not important. Rather, it is His being that is of utmost importance. He is the living God who took on human form. We relate to Him not because of our skin color but His humanity. And taking on our humanity He paid the penalty for our sins on the cross—the sins of persons of every color and culture.

For me, I do not care what color Jesus was, nor do I care that He was a Jew. These make no difference to me whatsoever. I am just grateful that He loves us and died for us, no matter our color or ethnicity. Perhaps someone reading this is convinced Jesus was either white or black. Either way, the real issue is this: Are you yielded to Him? And is He your Savior?

The Importance of a Man Loving His Wife

In the outcry against sins of society, a Christian man can neglect to decry his own sin in his own home—namely, the sin of neglecting to love his wife as Christ loves His church (which a number of other sins can be attached to this: pride, anger, harshness, sexual withholding or abuse, verbal and emotional abuse, etc.).

Too many Christian men have perverted the passage that reads, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:22-23), meanwhile totally ignoring the command just a few verses later:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. ~ Ephesians 5:25, 28-29 (ESV)

Regardless if a man is a simple layperson or a preacher with theologically solid and polished sermons, he can give a thousand and one reasons why he might disrespect and mistreat his wife, all of these reasons are inexcusable before the Lord who calls him to love his wife and honor his vows to her (before Him and witnesses).

Does a man think the Lord ignores or treats flippantly a man treating his wife poorly? The apostle writes,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered. ~ 1 Peter 3:7

Understand, the Bible is not at all saying the woman is lesser or inferior. In fact, her qualities are to compliment the man’s, just as his are to compliment the woman’s. A man is to love, nourish, cherish, and honor his wife. To neglect these is to both neglect himself and have his prayers hindered. As Christian men decrying the sins and corruption of society, may we also be all the more vigilant in decrying any sin of our own where we might be dishonoring, harsh, and demeaning to our wives. God is just as condemning of these as He is of any sin we might cry out against in society.

The Relevance of Christianity

There are some who claim that “Christianity needs to change” and that biblical teachings are “outdated and irrelevant.” However, neither of these claims are correct. It is not Christianity that needs to change; rather, sinful, unbelieving hearts are what need to change by the regenerating and transforming power of the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, if people actually believed the dire predicament of the human condition and the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, and truly put into practice the teachings of Jesus (without “tweaking” them according to their own preferences), there is nothing more practical and relevant than Christianity.

Our world is ravaged by selfishness, pride, disrespect, xenophobia, greed, deception, slander, hatred, violence, immorality, and the like. All of this is a result of original sin.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned. ~ Romans 5:12

This corrupting and destructive power of sin can be likened to Gollum and the ring in, The Lord of the Rings. The ring, like sin, distorted his original nature and being, poisoned his mind and perception, and created a love and addiction to the very thing—his precious—that was destroying him.

The term “progressive Christianity” is both erroneous and deceptive, as well as stating, “making the church relevant.” So-called progressive Christianity ignores the reality of what the Bible calls sin—in all of its forms. The same for those who claim to promote relevance. The tendency, really, is to try to “have one’s cake and eat it too.” Often, these are mere attempts to gain God’s heaven apart from renouncing sin and yielding to Christ’s lordship. These remind me of the words in U2’s, “The Wanderer”:

“I stopped outside a church house
Where the citizens like to sit,
They say they want the kingdom.
But they don’t want God in it.”

This is why we are seeing so many churches and movements, feigning the name of Christ, all the while endorsing goddess worship, homosexuality, abortion, rebellion against any authority, rejection of the trustworthiness of the Scriptures, dismissal of holiness, etc. Many profess to condone these in a spirit of love; however, they misunderstand the true concept of what it means to love. Genuine love does not dismiss the seriousness of sin and its consequences, truth, or justice.

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? ~ Micah 6:8 (ESV)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son[d] from the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:14

[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:6

Furthermore, we are told:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy,drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~ Galatians 5:16-24

The truth of the matter is this: if people truly believed on Christ, renouncing sin and selfishness, and surrendered to the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures, we would see a cleaning up in politics, wholesomeness, in Hollywood, homes being restored, and peace in our streets and communities. Again, Christianity does not need to change, people do. If people were to accept Christianity’s effect throughout the ages, they would see that it is far more relevant and productive than what it is given credit for.

“Liking” Jesus but Not the Church

There is a book entitled, They Like Jesus but Not the Church, (note: I do not endorse the author or the movement he is part of). Certainly the church is not perfect—far from! However, is the author correct? Jesus is not at all concerned with whether people like him or not. We are told in the Gospels:

But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man. ~ John 2:24-25 (ESV)

People are fickle. They can like a person one day and betray him the next. Or they can be infatuated for a season only to have the infatuation replaced by the coldness of winter.

What does Jesus say about people’s thoughts about Him and His people? He tells His disciples (men who struggled with ambition, pride, anger, prejudice, fear, etc.),

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. ~ John 15:18

Elsewhere, He explains:

The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. ~ John 7:7

A common complaint is churches are “filled with hypocrites.” As opposed to what? Politics? Hollywood? Realms where people are applauded and idolized—in spite of blatant hypocrisy! Furthermore, while hypocrites exist in many churches, there are also many wonderful, godly, honest, humble, and compassionate persons (but no one wants to give any credit to these). Yet, it is these that are just as much irritants to those who supposedly “like” Jesus. Notice what Jesus said, the world hated Him before it ever hated His people. And why does it hate Him? Because He testifies about it and its evil practices.

The apostle John declares,

We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother. ~ 1 John 4:19-21

And Jesus says plainly,

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me…. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. ~ John 14:23-24; 15:12

Jesus’ call has never been to follow His followers. Rather, He bids each of us to pick up our cross and follow Him. For someone to say he “likes Jesus but not the church” is merely a smokescreen concealing rebellion against the very One he claims to “like.”