Following Jesus entails persecution. vv20,21
In addition to the world’s hatred, we also face the fact that—as Jesus’ followers—we will suffer as He suffered. The world does not just dislike us, they will persecute us. This is also something believers should expect. In fact, the question could be asked, “Why are we not persecuted?”
Jesus often talks about the Kingdom of God as though it were an agricultural effort. And, in that comparison we need to see the world as a field waiting to be planted. One way that the soil is softened, something we see in example after example, is through the suffering that the children of God experience in the world.
One commonality that we see again and again in areas where the Kingdom of God is growing and churches are being planted is persecution. The movement of God triggers a push-back from the world and the culture where that movement is happening. And that persecution in turn strengthens the disciples where it happens. In the days of the East German Republic, where faith was discouraged and people in the church were given fewer chances in the culture, the churches were stronger. People who said they were believers had counted the cost and were really living what they said they believed. Of course, the downside of this persecution is that it can also negatively impact the movement in the long run. For three generations the East German government squashed the religious worldview to such an extent that the default mindset even today is completely secular.
It is hard to claim that we face any real persecution for being followers of Jesus today. We can be thankful for that, but we also should ask ourselves why. Is it that we are blessed, or is it something about the way we live out of faith in the world? We need to be prepared to face the hardships that God does allow to come our way.