We all want to be loved and appreciated. We all want to be treated fairly, and given the benefit of the doubt when our motives or methods are misunderstood. However, if we have chosen to be followers of Jesus, we have another reality.
Jesus told his followers, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18) That is a chilling reminder that popularity was not something Christ promised any of us, even in today’s marketing savvy church world. No matter how many orphans we rescue; no matter how many widows we help; no matter how many people we dignify with basic medical care; no matter how many water wells we fund and drill for the parched populations, we will always be misunderstood or even vilified.
Have “Christians” earned some of this scorn. Most definitely. We have been angry when we should have been prayerful. We have cursed the darkness, when we should have been the light of the world and we have focused on politics when we should have been planting life giving churches. We have pointed out the failures of others while hiding the sins of our own soul. Hypocrisy and misguided zeal deserve the rebukes of our culture. For these things, we should repent and commit to being better at reflecting the Christ who guides us daily.
But, even if we get it all right and Jesus is purely reflected in our words, thoughts and deeds, we will not be popular with everyone. We have to get over the need to be adored and, instead, cherish the love of a few. Jesus got it right, every time, but we know how that ended. Instead of being aggravated, he forgave them and even took a repentant thief with him to paradise that very day.
Let our words be marinated with grace and our hearts saturated in worship. May we follow the ways of Jesus, who did not retaliate when he was falsely accused, but instead, left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly. May we love one another sincerely, serve routinely and bless others at every opportunity, without any desire for applause.