Last week, I wrote about my struggle to understand why it was necessary for Christians to suffer (Read Here).
As I knew He would, God has given me some insight into my own experience of suffering. It was stuff I already knew in my head… But now I am beginning to understand it with my heart.
“A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!”
Matthew 10:24-25 (NRSV)
I love this passage. It shatters any and all of my previous expectations. There is no reason to think or believe that the religious world will treat the true disciple of Christ any differently than they treated Christ.
Jesus didn’t deserve to have religious leaders despise Him. To have them collectively seek to destroy Him. If you really think about it, it is mind boggling– Jesus spoke words. He did good things. Why would they want Him dead?!
If they believed that Jesus was some crackpot, self-made guru, no one would have wasted their time in trying to destroy Him. No, it is only when you believe that someone like Jesus is who He says He is, that you could find yourself so enraged. He was Truth Incarnate. To hate Truth is to hate God, and to hate any and everyone that embodies His Truth. Even to the point of murdering an innocent person–in order to protect the lies you’ve clothed yourself with.
Truth lays our hearts bare. It reveals our true nature to ourselves. If you are someone that has invested themselves into an expansive wardrobe of falsehoods, Truth will force you to choose between what is not real and the Source of all that is real. We hate that about Truth!
It begins to make sense that true disciples of Christ would elicit a strong response from those religious persons pretending they aren’t actually hiding from Christ (you know who you are…). Because when Truth forces us to choose, human beings know that either way, we are going to have to part with something we value.
God willing, we choose the better portion. But in that moment, when one chooses Truth, one feels stripped naked and ashamed. And we are totally naked… Until we put on the Truth that is Christ. Then, all better!
True disciples of Christ can make people feel uncomfortable, and even enraged. When we are found in Christ, Truth is ever by our side. So, when people hate us, we can see it as a burden, or…we can rejoice in the fact that their reaction affirms our spiritual identity. Yay! I’m a real disciple!!
It is true, that some self-proclaimed Christians elicit hatred from others. And, this hatred is not due to their being found in Christ. But due to the questionable character of those Christians. If we act like jerks, people are going to hate us. And we’d totally deserve their hatred. That’s not persecution, that’s social order. Now, it should be obvious to us which kind of hatred we are experiencing, if we are indeed self-aware. But even if we are not self-aware, the Holy Spirit can reveal to us the cause of perceived hatred. (John 14:26) Although, no one wants hear from the Spirit that they deserve what they are getting, it’s far better than continuing in our own idiocy!
You know, following Christ is turning out to be waaaay harder than I ever thought it could be. Not that I’m not up to the challenge, I just realize I’m going to need to grow some thicker skin. I can’t stand to be hated. I’m the recovering people pleaser, remember? If someone dislikes me, I have failed!
I can’t live that way anymore. Because, God says:
“Listen to me, you who know righteousness, you people who have my teaching in your hearts; do not fear the reproach of others, and do not be dismayed when they revile you.
For the moth will eat them up like a garment, and the worm will eat them like wool; but my deliverance will be forever, and my salvation to all generations.”
Isaiah 51:7-8 (NRSV)
Those that clothe themselves with falsehoods, and hate the Truth we bear, will come to an end. A very undesirable end. But those who are hated for what God has written on their hearts, they will be delivered from that end into Eternity. It’s actually a pretty good deal–momentarily reviled by others, eternally held in God’s salvation. Yeah, being hated sucks. But it sure beats the alternative!