“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets…
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”Luke 6:22-23,26
Long before “cancel culture” was created as part of today’s social media world, followers of Christ knew what it was to be excluded, hated, and dismissed by the culture around them.
We tend to think that Christianity was always widely accepted, but in the early centuries of the church, simply by following Christ, they could lose everything – their family, social standing, their ability to earn a living. And that is still the case for many believers across the world.
How does a believer respond? Rejoice! Leap for joy and remember that others who honored God with their lives (the prophets) paid a similar price for their faith.
On the other hand, Jesus announces another “woe” to those who seek the approval of others at any cost.
Even if you’re not predisposed to being a people pleaser, we all generally like the approval of others, right?
Jesus warned us to not be afraid of any man, but instead to fear God and live our lives accordingly-
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”Matthew 10:28
Finally, this passage reminds me of the prophets of the Old Testament who were willing to take a stand on behalf of their God. I think of Elijah and his confrontation with the prophets of Baal. What about Jeremiah who stood against the false prophets of his day? Or Daniel who was willing to be thrown into a lion’s den for the sin of praying to God?
Following Christ requires us to live a sometimes uncomfortable life. We may be excluded or hated because of our faith or something worse, but at that moment let’s remember to rejoice as John and Peter when confronted for their “unpopular” opinion regarding the resurrected Christ –
“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.”Acts 5: 41