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John 15 v 18 - 16 v 4

With John the Apostle, it was always black and white; the Church and the world, those who do good and those who do evil, those who follow Jesus and those who reject Him. Remember, that at the time of John writing this Gospel, the Church was being persecuted, Christianity had been made illegal and the punishment was generally death. John draws out from His memory the prophetic words of Jesus, nobody who decided to follow Jesus could say that they hadn't been warned. Just as in some countries today-Pakistan, Vietnam, China, Saudi Arabia, some areas of India for example- becoming a Christian was a potential death sentence. In John's time, the Romans found that the great unifying force in their vast Empire of disparate groups of people could be Caesar worship and Christians refused to worship Caesar.  The masses also hated Christians because they believed them to be revolutionaries, cannibals, immoral and fire raisers. 

John also reminds his readers that they now no longer have the chance to plead ignorance. Knowing about Jesus brings all to the crossroads: do they follow Him or turn away? It was rather understandable in John's day as it could mean not only imprisonment and worse, but loss of job, loss of family, loss of home. Why do people in Western Europe turn away from Jesus today? I think it is because of the stark challenges of Jesus. Often when I speak to people the story of the rich young ruler crops up and people love their security, their little luxuries. Why do you, why do we, not follow Jesus in the way we should?

Jesus never sugar-coated His Way, He made it clear to any potential followers that His Way was difficult and fraught with danger. Jesus offered then and continues to offer today not the way of comfort, but the way of glory. Is that not worth being prepared to give up everything else to gain? Paul's words: ''I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in Him.''

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