By Tim Mize
The cross of Christ brings home to us how poorly the world received him. They did not all welcome the words and works of Jesus Christ. There were some, for example, who did not appreciate him. His own home town, and even his own family at first, did not support him. Many others besides would not believe in him, support him, or other-wise appreciate what he was doing.
There were others, though, who not only did not appreciate Christ, but were suspicious of him. They were inclined to think the worst. Jesus, like many another soul that has marched to the beat of God’s word alone, was thought by those in power to be dangerous. His ways and words denounced the status quo, leading those who benefitted from it the most to feel threatened. Their initial suspicion finally led them to oppose Christ actively. They treated him as a hated enemy and, in the end, nailed him to a cross.
Thus the world received Jesus, and thus it receives his disciples as well. Indeed, thus it has received the servants of God from time immemorial. This should be no surprise. The world has trouble loving and appreciating its own. No wonder, then, that it cannot love and appreciate the outsiders among it, especially those whose very way of life exposes and challenges it. We who sincerely heed the call to “be not conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2) should not be surprised when the world is not well pleased. “Marvelnot, my brethren, if the world hate you” (1 Jn. 3:13).
Those who are outside Christ won’t always appreciate you. They won’t always be fair with you. They might even resent you, even to the point of ridicule, physical abuse, or worse. To compound the hurt, this mistreatment can come from friends, neighbors, and even family. But it is just as Jesus said, “The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn. 15:18).
Does this mean that the righteous will always be persecuted? No, for not even Christ was always persecuted. From time to time, however, and in varying degrees, hostility toward the faithful must be expected.
Does this mean that every persecuted person is righteous? By no means. Everyone, including ourselves, will be mistreated at times for causes unrelated to any discipleship to Christ. Persecution is no sign that one is in the right. Even the very wicked will be ill-treated at times.
By following Christ, however, we take upon ourselves a special suffering that we would not have had otherwise, when others mistreat us because of our faith. This is a truth that comes home to us as we survey the cross.
Guardian of Truth XXXVIII: 11, p. 5
June 2, 1994