Christianity is not an easy road. Jesus called it a narrow way. It is a difficult, unpopular and often dangerous path to walk.
When we choose this life we are choosing scorn, mockery, and difficulty. People will not understand us. The decisions we make in obedience to our precious, Lord Jesus will not make sense to this world.
As humans, this is hard for us. We naturally desire affirmation, acceptance, and approval.
When we become Christians, if we truly live in obedience to Christ, we will receive scorn and mockery.
This is a painful reality. It is hard to let the desire for the approval of others go. It is easy to grow discouraged when we are hated and persecuted for our faith.
In Hebrews 12 we are told to consider Jesus lest we grow weary and discouraged.
When we consider Him we discover that He dealt with everything we deal with. He was scorned. He was ridiculed. Even his own family did not understand the decisions that He made.
He gave up everything to come to this earth and die on humanity’s behalf. He was rejected by the very people He came to save. He gave up everything for us and we spit in His face.
Most of us recognize that He suffered excruciating physical pain. He was torn by thorns. He was flogged. He was crucified.
We often forget however, that He also experienced incredible emotional pain. Jesus wept over the city of Jerusalem because they did not recognize or receive Him. He was misunderstood by most. His own family thought He was insane.
The very people who should have crowned Him as their rightful King spit upon Him instead.
Just before His death, Jesus warned His disciples that they would be persecuted and that the world would not receive them or their message.
John 15:18-20 says, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.”
Just as He promised them, Jesus’ disciples were persecuted. They were flogged and thrown into jail. They were hunted down and killed. How did they respond to this hardship?
Over and over again throughout the book of Acts, we see the disciples rejoicing in the midst of their pain because they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. They considered it an honor to experience persecution on behalf of their Savior.
Throughout Scripture, we are promised that if we serve Christ we too will suffer. We may not experience the physical pain that so many Christians throughout the ages have endured but we will most certainly experience the pain of being misunderstood. How will we respond when the promised suffering comes our way?
May we like the early disciples fix our eyes on Jesus. He experienced everything we experience. Our pain is but a taste of His. May we rejoice in the knowledge that we share His suffering. May we pursue Christ in spite of the cost.