As we continue in Jesus’ final instructions before he sends them out “on their own,” there are a lot of interesting points to examine. Our Lord gives the exact right amount of “tough love” combined with comforting promises.
The first two verses today ought to give us pause. If we’re popular as individuals or as a church or in the church in America, is that necessarily a bad thing? Should we want to be hated? If we’re being the salt and light we’re supposed to be, doesn’t Jesus say that the natural result of that would be people praising our Father in heaven? Wouldn’t that mean that we'd be somewhat popular, or at least not hated like Nazis?
Like most good questions, the answer can’t be just “yes” or “no.” Like Christ himself, believers cause a division among people. Jesus had very few if any people who met him and walked away as neutral: They tended to either worship him or plot his murder. It’s the same way with us, or it should be. If we’re representing our Savior the way we ought, then most people will either end up joining us or hating us, and Jesus wanted to prepare us for the worst. If we are pretty popular or being left alone by the world, then that might be a danger sign.
If you look at church history, by the way, we’re an anomaly. During most of its 2,000 year history, the church has been commonly persecuted. It’s only within the last 200 years, in this tiny sliver of time and in this nation that we’ve had some relief. I could be wrong, but I think that this period of tolerance will come to an end very shortly. Amazingly enough, the first word out of his mouth after this warning about being treated no better than the Master is “So” or “Therefore” in the NASB. Because of persecution we should not fear them. Why? Because the truth will eventually come out, and God’s children will be vindicated in the end. Along with this, we should remember that fear of man and fear of God are mutually incompatible.
And also we need to keep in mind that our Father is taking care of us. He knows exactly what’s happening to us, and he knows us intimately (of course, some of us have less hair than others for him to keep track of). When we’re being persecuted for our faith, he’s not standing off on the sidelines, watching from a distance. Just like with Job, the Enemy has to get specific permission to touch us, and it all has to be filtered through the Father's perfect, loving plan. Just be faithful, don’t be afraid to acknowledge him, and trust him. Hmmm, trust and obey. That seems to be a pattern, doesn’t it?
Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be looking for persecution, but I can’t expect to be treated any better than you were. When the time comes to make a choice, please give me the strength to make the right one.
Post a Comment