This was the invitation of Jesus, first to His disciples, then to others, now to us. “Follow me.” Be like Jesus.
In one of the early sermons of Jesus’ ministry He defines His character, His attitude, and His incarnational persona.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit…
“Blessed are those who mourn…
“Blessed are the meek…
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…
“Blessed are the merciful…
“Blessed are the pure in heart…
“Blessed are the peacemakers…
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake…
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account… (Matthew 5:3-12 – in pieces ESV)
The Beatitudes. The Resume of Jesus. Our navigation system for following Christ.
These words were not simply a part of a powerful sermon, they were the very description of Christ. He was what He taught.
So why… with a resume of humility, justice, mercy, peace, grace, righteousness and compassion… did people hate Jesus? (“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” John 15:18 ESV)
Just how could “the world” hate a man like this?
The powerbrokers of Jesus’ day hated Him.
The self-righteous zealots hated Jesus.
The self-absorbed and arrogant hated Jesus.
The legalist hated Jesus.
The religiously bigoted hated Jesus.
The ethnically prejudiced hated Jesus.
The culturally rigid hated Jesus.
They hated Jesus because He wasn’t obnoxious or defensive or abusive or elitist. They hated Him because He lived into His calling… He lived the words He preached.
He gave them no punches to counterpunch. He left them with the simmering resentment that boils over into hatred.
But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. (Matthew 5:39-42 ESV)
Against the backdrop of this example I test my own heart; my own behavior; my own attitude.
Am I hated by the world? Perhaps, but most likely because I’m loveless, opinionated, forceful, biased, and maybe even obnoxious. I’m more apt to pound my fist, or shake my head, or click my tongue for what I think is right and what I know is wrong… truth without love. Righteousness without grace.
Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6 ESV)
It is no badge of honor; no claim to fame; no cause for celebration if the world hates me because I hate them.
Being obnoxious or hateful or arrogant finds no space in the Beatitudes.
The world hated Jesus because He was full of grace AND truth. He was irreconcilable with political power and exploitation. And frankly, that simply ticked off the powerful.
“Follow me.” Follow Jesus.
To the cross and then the throne. To the least and then to glory.
Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. (Philippians 2:5 The Message)
I want to be hated by the world for all the right reasons…