While in God's Grip!
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world — therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’”
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”
~ John 15:18 - 27
When I was a kid, one of my best friends and I would create goofy songs to make our mothers laugh and to sometimes cause embarrassment. One song that we didn't create, but loved to sing, was a nursery rhyme that had to do with worms and the garden. "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, going to the garden to eat worms."
Being liked, even as a child, was something that I knew early in life I enjoyed a whole lot more that being disliked. I couldn't even imagine really being hated at that point.
Hate is something we all learn from someone or something. I have watched over the years as children have grown into adults, and for some, I see them now and have to ask myself, where did you learn to hate something so much?
Christ reminds us that there were those who hated him.
For me, it is somewhat hard to understand how someone could hate a God who is always is seeking to love me. But that is how I perceive my relationship with Jesus. Not everyone has that same experience and understanding.
Years ago I met a very bitter man living on the street who absolutely hated God. As a child his parents had basically abandoned him. His first love died at a very young age, and he became an alcoholic by the time he was 22 years old. He had lost job after job, and friends and family turned away from him. I met him one day while serving sandwiches on the street. I soon realized that he really didn't care for me either, because as a pastor, and I was part of the church that represented a God he also felt had wronged him, and that he hated.
Although he managed to show up each week for nearly two years, accepting food and some support, he never opened himself up. He had become a true cynic, and he eventually disappeared, carrying with him that same hate, but also, I had hoped, another view of what the love of God might look like.
While I had hoped that he would eventually realize that God was not responsible for his parents leaving, or the death of his first love, or even his own alcoholism. God was, however, still present, and seeking to have a relationship with him.
So often we hinge our own relationship with God to our own experiences, good and bad, and those experiences directly impact how we view God.
Jesus acknowledges that there are simply those who hate him. Let's face it, there was a lot of hate involved in the torture and death of Christ. There is no denying that what Jesus saw first hand was just how hateful humanity can be.
Our love for God can sometimes be met by someone like the man I met on the street years ago. Our love for God should never be something that we be ashamed of or question. When we feel that perhaps there is no one who likes us, or that everybody hates us, a garden of worms is not the next step. There is no comfort found there! Seek the wisdom of your heart where God has placed a love that no amount of hate can ever destroy and remain in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Dear God, while I may not understand how others might hate You, may I never loose sight of Your faithfulness to having a relationship with me. Help me to continue to share that love with others, even when they may hate You and perhaps even me, because of that love I have for You. Amen.
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain and ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.