Get Rejected… Like Jesus
Sermon on the Mount: Part II
This next part of the sermon must have really caused a stir. It seems counter-intuitive, but when you meditate on it, the sense of it becomes so clear that it disturbs you even more. It disturbs you because it is true that in imitating Christ in this world you, too, will be misunderstood, rejected and scorned. The choice to be a follower of Jesus in this world has consequences.
“Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, then your reward will be great in heaven. This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.”
The most basic of human needs is to be loved, to belong, to be accepted by the group, or by society in general. We too often judge our own value on the level of acceptance we have from others. Teenagers know this at a very painful level. If one is not a part of the important crowd, one is not valuable. This, of course, is a false measurement of value, but the average teenager, and may I suggest the average so-called adult, bends to this measurement constantly.
Our value comes not from society, not from a particular group, or race, or economic status; it comes from God. We are, each and every one of us, made in the image of God. We are all, equally, children of God. But in our fallen nature, we have lost sight of that more often than not. Pride and its offspring, Ego, blind us to the Good News that each of us is made in, and which we are asked to live out of in this life.
When, in this world, we begin to understand the great gift that God has given us; when we recognize the responsibility that places on us; when we, in faith, though full of fear, begin to live as Jesus lived in this world, we begin to experience the anger, the resentment of those who have submitted to the perishable things of the world like: pride, money, possessions, power, political influence, winning, etc.
Of course, we too must be self-reflective about our motives. We may be moved by false things too. One can fall into the sin of pride if one thinks one’s self better than those that reject us. This may be a greater failure on our part. For in doing so we forget that those who have rejected us out of ignorance, fear, or pride, are still children of God too.
We can celebrate and dance for joy only if we are being rejected because of our commitment to live as Jesus lived. If that is the cause of our being rejected and having all manner of calumnies told against us, then our joy will be in knowing that we are living in Jesus. And we will then be moved, not by anger, not by revenge, but only by love for those who are rejecting us and calumniating against us. We will be moved to pray for them, to take our sufferings on as an offering for them and their conversion. If we can do this, then we can believe that our reward will be to be with God forever in heaven. Amen.
Dan Doyle is a retired professor of English and Humanities. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology. To read more of Dan’s work, click here.