I had read John 15 many times but never noticed the juxtaposition of a passage on love and a passage on hate. In John 15:9-17, Jesus commanded His followers repeatedly to “love each other as I have loved you.” In John 15:18-25, Jesus warned His followers that they would face hatred and persecution: “You do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”
There are only two options in life. We can choose to follow Jesus’ way of love or the devil’s way of hatred. In John 13:34-35, Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This is a comforting promise, that we can choose to join the Kingdom of Jesus’ love. But it is also a warning and a test. We may be overconfident, blithely assuming that we belong to Jesus’ Kingdom rather than Satan’s. But if we want to have a clearer idea of whether we actually do, we should examine ourselves and ask the hard question of whether we love or hate the people we come into contact with, including sinners and those who are not faithful to Jesus. Are our actions motivated by love or hate? We can all think of people who claimed to be part of Jesus’ Kingdom but whose lives have seemed more focused on hate than love. But that is none of our business. Our business is to make sure that we are not among them.