Passage: John 15:18-16:4a
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
During Jesus’ final night, he sought to prepare his disciples for the hard reality that soon awaited them: that they would be “hated by the world” on his account. The more their lives were transformed by Jesus, the more out of step they could expect to be with the reigning paradigms and expectations of the world. Having this sober mindset and honest expectation would help “keep (them) from falling away” (16:1) when things got tough.
In the passage, Jesus repeatedly refers to “the world”, which he says he has chosen his disciples out of, and which stands in opposition to him, and therefore to his servants, too (15:19). In John’s gospel, “the world” refers to a corrupt system in opposition to God. “The world” is not just a group of people, but is the entire system of beliefs, attitudes, habits, values, and agendas formed in opposition to God, and in neglect of God—wherein the sum is greater than the parts. As individuals, we contribute to the attitudes and values of “the world”, but we are also profoundly formed by them as well. When someone becomes a disciple of Jesus, however, they become “off-centered”—their center of values no longer aligns with the world. Therefore, while disciples are still “in” the world, they are no longer “of” it—and therefore they experience persecution.
What is it, then, that draws forth such opposition? Jesus drew opposition because of the ways his words and actions exposed the world—its true motives, and its enmity with God. Through his miracles and his claims of authority, for example, but also through his gracious approach, Jesus exposed the world’s latent pride and unbelief—and it hated him for it. The more closely we follow Jesus today, the more people will hate us for the exposure our lives bring.
Thankfully, Jesus sends us his Holy Spirit to “bear witness” through us (15:26-27). As the Holy Spirit “bears witness” to Jesus through us, it will draw forth the opposition of people, but in doing so it will expose the world’s pride and pretense. In Jesus’ ultimate moment of “bearing witness” to his Father’s character, on the cross, he exposed the emptiness of both the religious systems and worldly powers of his day, and showed forth a better way. May we follow closely in his footsteps, knowing that suffering precedes glory.
- The World is a Corrupt System in Opposition to God (15:18-21)
- The World Hates Us Because of the Exposure (15:22-25)
- God Gives Us the Spirit as a Witness (15:26-16:4)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage(s): John 15:18-16:4
The World is a Corrupt System in Opposition to God (15:18-21)
1) Re-read John 15:18-21, and consider these questions together:
• Why is the world said to “hate” Jesus’ disciples?
• What does it mean to be “of” the world?
• What does Jesus mean that he “chose us out of the world”? What does he not mean?
• How does our relationship with Jesus impact the way the world responds to us?
2) Have you, or someone you know, ever experienced being “hated” by the world, for Jesus’ sake? How do you discern the difference between when someone is legitimately hated by the world because of their resemblance to Jesus, and when someone is hated by the world for other reasons…e.g. being abrasive, unkind, proud, etc?
3) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby talked about two reasons we may not experience much “hatred” from the world:
o We might be “chameleon Christians”—Christians who are very involved/integrated into the world, but who more or less keep their faith hidden, and who take on the values/habits/perspectives of our culture.
o We might be “musk-ox Christians”—Christians who “circle up” in their own communities, and who largely run in Christian circles, with Christian friends and Christian activities
Looking at your life, do you lean more towards the tendency to be a “chameleon Christian” or a “musk-ox Christian”? What practical steps might you take steps towards greater faithfulness to Jesus among people who are not Christians? What impact do you think this would have on your witness?
4) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby defined “the world” as: “the entire system of beliefs, and attitudes, and habits, and values, and agendas, that is set against God…which, though created good by God, is now deeply corrupted.” Pastor Bobby also mentioned that the mindset of “the world” can even be found inside the church? Where have you seen the mindset of the “world” even in the church? How is this similar to, or different than the way we most commonly think about “the world”?
5) Is there an area of your life where you feel like you’ve bought into the mindset of “the world”? What would it look like to repent and follow Jesus this area?
The World Hates Us Because of the Exposure (15:22-25)
5) Re-read John 15:22-25, and consider together:
• In what sense does the Jesus’ “coming and speaking” to the world lead to their being guilty of sin? In what sense does Jesus’ “doing the works that no one else did” for the world, lead to their being guilty of sin?
• What does Jesus mean when he says that “now they have no excuse for their sin” (vs. 22)? Did they have an excuse before?
6) In the sermon, Pastor Bobby said that the world hates Jesus because of the way he exposes us—our pride, our pretense, our rejection of his grace. Can you think of instances in which Jesus’ exposed people’s…pride? False motives? Refusal of God’s grace?
7) Have you ever experienced a time when you or someone you knew was “hated” because of the way their obedience to Jesus exposed something about the world and its values?
God Give Us the Spirit as a Witness (15:26-16:4)
8) Re-read John 15:26-27. What does it mean that the Holy Spirit himself will “bear witness” about Jesus through us? How is this a practical comfort to us when we experience rejection or opposition for our faith?
9) Re-read John 16:1-4. How does Jesus “saying these things” to his disciples serve to “Keep them from falling away?” Can you think of a time when having the right expectations about what following Jesus entailed helped to keep you from falling away?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.