Thursday, June 7, 2018

When Men Reject You

Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22).

All of us want to be liked, but Jesus tells us that as Christians we will sometimes be hated. When I hear this, I think of the prophet Jeremiah. Every time he spoke God’s Word, he was drowned out by a chorus of false prophets. The difference between Jeremiah and the false prophets was that they only told the people what they wanted to hear, while Jeremiah told them what they needed to hear.

Jeremiah’s message was one of doom, so the false prophets won all the popularity contests. Bear in mind that Jeremiah was a human being. He was indeed anointed by the Holy Spirit to his task, but the hatred of his fellow citizens wounded him deeply. He did not enjoy his calling, and he called out to God to deliver him from being a prophet. He felt the full weight of public rejection. Jesus says that it is men like this who are receiving the blessing.

What does it mean to be blessed? It does not mean a warm, fuzzy feeling. It means that eternal life which begins now in the midst of pain and continues forever in the fulness of joy. Thus, when we are persecuted for the faith, we are to “rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their fathers treated the prophets” (Luke 6:23).

Jesus did not promise this blessing to anyone who suffers reproach, but rather to those who suffer such rejection for the sake of Christ. It is one thing to be rejected because we are ill-mannered or offensive. The Bible tells us to be at peace with all men, to be kind and friendly and generous.

But there is a sense in which loyalty to Christ will ultimately bring you some rejection by men. If you have never suffered such rejection for Christ’s sake, you need to ask why. Christ promised that those who bear His name and embrace His values will suffer the same kind of humiliation and rejection of men that He did.

Have you ever suffered for your faith? That can be a hard question, and if you have to answer it with a “no,” perhaps you need to reassess your commitments. The answer is not to run out and invite persecution by doing some absurd or offensive act, but rather to seek out places in your life where you may be compromising Christ.