Today’s Scripture: “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.” John 15:20a, ESV
Theme: Jesus Himself told us to expect rejection and even persecution.
Living in the United States of America, in the south, my experience is that rejection and persecution are rare. Usually, the people I surround myself with are affirming and accepting of my faith. If I know someone to be hostile to Christianity, I don’t push discussion of the topic and, in that way, I avoid rejection. I don’t have to face terrible rejection very often.
A HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT
Hostile environments I’m familiar with include: corporate America, business owners' groups, High School, university, abroad, at a wild party, and in politics. Sometimes we can’t avoid hostile environments and other times we are able, but the question is – should we avoid them or not? The answer doesn’t have to be the same for every believer; however, it is crucial that we at least consider intentionally allowing ourselves to be in hostile environments. Safety and purity are important, and yet so is our presence as God’s image bearers in the world. Some believers are born into and remain in hostile environments their whole lives. God loves them no less than He loves us. He allows it, asks us to expect it, and may even lead us towards a situation where we will be rejected. God calls us out of the comfortable and into the hostile – where He will absolutely go before and behind us. Even while we experience rejection or even persecution, He is with us, and it will be okay.
JESUS AND HOSTILE ENVIRONMENTS
Jesus was known to seek solitude and time alone with His Father (Mark 1:35; Mark 14:32; Luke 6:12; Luke 22:39). He would also periodically direct His disciples away from the crowds to rest (Mark 6:31-33). Yet, He didn’t shy away from facing the crowds, popular people, religious leaders, synagogues, and rejection. Jesus followed God and occupied a balance of restful and hostile environments. Ultimately, He knowingly faced suffering and rejection. “‘The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,’ he said. ‘He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead’” (Luke 9:22, NLT). I don’t know what rejections, suffering or hostile environments you have endured or will face. What I do know is we can expect rejection, persecution, and hostility in our lifetimes. Sometimes we are called to show up in a hostile environment. Other times God directs us to rest, pray, and even receive instructions. Jesus modeled both stepping away from and into hostile environments – we can confidently do likewise.
Make It Personal: How could expecting rejection help me focus on sabbath and rest? How are fame and rejection juxtaposed? Is there a way that rejection by culture could be considered a blessing?
Pray: Dear God, Thank you for providing rhythms of rest and work, comfort and opposition – we are not overwhelmed. You are with us. Please speak to us in the quiet times so that we will know where to go next. Help us not to fear the opposition in front of us. Yet when we do fear, help us to go where you lead, anyway. Protect us from falling into sin when we are in a challenging or hostile environment. We want to reflect You well and accurately. Thank You for sending Jesus, for His kind example and great humility. Help us to overcome the blindness of our own culture and comfort. Help us to bear up in the face of certain rejection. Help us to be faithful and to obey You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Read: Mark 1:35; Mark 14:32; Luke 6:12; Luke 22:39; Mark 6:31-33
Weekly Memory Verse: “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” Proverbs 29:25, ESV