(Jesus said) "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." John 15:18-19
There are few things which are more precious to a venerable, old church than its stained-glass windows.
For the folks on the outside of the church, illuminated stained glass can provide a wonderful reminder of the purpose of the congregation and the Savior's story of salvation, which it proclaims. For worshippers on the inside, stained glass can be an aid to prepare for worship and a focus upon the redemption the Savior has won.
For almost 100 years, the stained-glass windows of St. John Nepomuk Church in St. Louis have held a special place in the hearts of worshippers. Numerous generations have grown to love the stories of the New Testament, which are so beautifully depicted in the German-made glass.
That was the way it was until one Thursday morning in November.
On that day the congregational custodian entered the church to find glass and leading all over the floor. In the center of the nave was a brick that had broken through the protective Plexiglas. On the outside of the church, were other bricks, which had been violently thrown at the windows.
Nobody knows who threw the bricks. They only know that their church has been vandalized, and it will cost $2,000 a square foot to restore their window.
Any Christian who reads that story will find himself saddened.
That's because we recognize just how much the world hates anything that tries to promote the Savior, who gave His life for our salvation. That hatred may show itself when a mentally disturbed individual uses a hammer to attack Michelangelo's Pieta in the Vatican; it may demonstrate itself when some angry individual lobs bricks at an historic, old church in St. Louis; it may be seen as ISIS destroys Christian churches and plants landmines in the homes of believers to prevent them from returning.
Yes, these things are sad, but they are not unexpected. Our Lord Jesus told us, "If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you."
This leads us to ask how should we respond to the world's hatred? The apostle Peter provides a better and more succinct answer than I could. Hear him when he says, "Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing" (1 Peter 3:9).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may I love my enemies and reach out to those who persecute Your church. This I ask following the will and wishes of my Savior who gave all so I might be blessed with forgiveness and eternal life. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries