A young missionary friend of mine recently wrote of his experience with rejection. And while many of us have dealt with moments of rejection throughout our lives, I doubt if most of my readers have experienced that rejection because of their faith in God.
Daniel shared of being “seen with despise.” As he shared his childhood memories of being spit upon by an older boy and left playing alone because of his faith, those memories morphed into the present-day reality of being ignored and hated because of His service to the Lord. As a missionary in a country with few Christians, Daniel realizes that suffering is not the side effect of serving Him or several coincidences along the way. Rather, it is as the apostle Paul said in Philippians 1:29 – For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him.
Let’s face it, most of us would prefer that Paul never included that bit of knowledge in the Scriptures. For while it is our joy to believe in Christ, most of us would choose to leave the suffering by the wayside. After all, where’s the joy in that? What’s the benefit of bearing burdens when it seems that greater testimony would come from a carefree life of ease and happiness? And as we face our fears, ponder the doubts, and question why God would allow suffering to come to us, we realize how much our own thoughts are unlike His. We become aware of the shortfall between our own character and that of Christ’s.
Until, as my friend did, we realize that the real question addressed toward suffering should be, “How will I greatly embrace it?”
Cling to the ones who despise you.
Give a bear hug to the boy who would spit in your face.
That’s a mighty tough challenge.
But one that is completely Christlike in nature. (See Isaiah 53:3-12)
Today, it seems fitting to close with my friend’s final remark:
“It is a privilege of following Him… to be hated, and love them back”
Powerful words. And the heart of the Gospel.
“…To be hated, and love them back.”
Think on it.
Then ask God for the strength to not only believe it, but to fulfill it.
In Jesus’ name.