The truth is that a Christian should expect to be unpopular. And he should fully anticipate that he will be treated that way.
Why? Truth is, sometimes it’s us. We’re sinful, and we put our sins on display far more often than we’d like to admit it.
But sometimes it’s not us. At all. In those cases, Jesus says it’s not personal. At least, it’s not personal to you or me. It’s personal to Jesus. We will be hated because of him.
His direction to us in these situations is clear. Hang in there! Stand firm. Don’t let go of Jesus. Don’t let your faith slip away.
And don’t feel compelled to stay where you’re not liked, either. When you’re rejected in one place, Jesus says, head on to the next. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea. As a fisher of men, don’t waste a lot of time with those who don’t care much for your message. Find a better fishing hole and go on to those who are receptive.
Pull a page from Isaac’s book, in other words. Isaac was not well liked in his day. In fact, he was so disliked that anytime he and his men dug a well, his enemies would track him down and stop up the well, filling it with dirt. Or simply steal it outright. Each time, Isaac simply retreated to a new location and dug another well.
What Isaac did in the physical realm with obtaining water, is what Jesus recommends in the spiritual realm with sharing the Water of Life.
Open up the well. Share the Water. If someone resists you, don’t get hung up quarreling. Move on. God will take care of you. And God will take care of his message.
“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another… 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:22-23a, 28-31, NIV).
Lord, help me discern who is truly thirsty when I share your gospel. You are the Water of Life. But you have not called us to force-feed anyone. As I trust you for the growth of your kingdom, make me ready to move on to the next person you have in mind for me, even when the unpopularity of the gospel message makes me feel discouraged. Help me to understand that hatred for your message is not unusual, or restricted to me. You “called it” 2000 years ago, and told me to expect this. And you will strengthen me and protect me, because I am worth a great deal to you–worth the very life of your Son, Jesus.
Our reading for Monday, January 12, is Genesis 25:1 – 26:35, Matthew 10:1-31, and Proverbs 1:20-33.