“And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.”
Everything about our faith appears authentically divine. Though there is wonderful consistency between what we believe about reality, knowledge, and ethics (a consistency not present in other competing faith systems), there are nevertheless some very hard teachings that could never have originated in the mind of man. The doctrine of the Trinity, for instance, is at once logically consistent and yet very hard to understand let alone articulate. Similarly, God’s moral commands express a standard too high for fallen men to reach on their own; its source must be supernatural. Furthermore, our awareness of these standards is itself inexplicable apart from divine revelation. While these objects of study can be a challenge to our intellects, today’s verse passage (and other related passages) pose a very different kind of challenge to us. Here we are challenged in our perspectives and attitudes. Everyone wants to be loved and accepted; we all need to feel valued and respected. Conversely, rejection hurts and we work hard to avoid it. This creates an unavoidable challenge for the faithful Christian, whose nature, character, and message will certainly be resisted and even despised by those carried along by the spirit of the age. “If the world hate you,” said Jesus, “ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (John 15:18-19). This dark world could not get along with Jesus, and it is certain that it cannot get along with His faithful followers either. Our response to the world’s opposition is where “the rubber meets the road;” here is where we see how far we have progressed in growth and sanctification as Christians. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” declared the Lord, “for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12). A reasonably mature Christian may tolerate this kind of rejection and opposition patiently without being devastated, lapsing into depression, or striking back. But to actually rejoice in these things requires a whole different level of Christian understanding, faith, and maturity. As saints living in what is probably the terminal generation, this is precisely what we are called to. As Christ’s ambassadors, we will face opposition. Even so, let us encourage one another to believe the Lord’s precious promises and to rejoice in our trials, knowing that our reward is as sweet as it is certain.
God bless you,