Most of us would agree that rejection is never pleasant. As I look back on my life so far, I realized just how much effort I’ve put into looking for acceptance from the world. Sometimes it was as simple as which clothes I wore, the music I listened to, or what I drove. Other times it was the company I kept, the girls I dated, where I went to school, or what I did for a living.
As I look at my life today, it seems that the desire for earthly approval has not really become any easier.
We Christians don’t always like to talk about this, but we have to be honest with ourselves and our faith. Many times, I see parishes, ministries, and other organizations becoming so preoccupied with trying to show everyone how cool they are or how nice they can be, all in attempts to gain acceptance.
Sometimes we so desperately want the world to see the greatness of God that we show them everything except God.
People may like meeting and being around nice people, but that doesn’t help anyone.
Jesus didn’t get crucified for being a nice guy or preaching universal acceptance of anything and everything. They killed Him because he challenged them, and accepting Him meant accepting difficulty and change.
“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you, ‘No slave is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me. If I had not spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me also hates my Father.”
It really is as difficult as it sounds. Oddly enough, most Christians today expect faith to be easy and expect believing to lead to prosperity and comfort.
“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen”
As the world continues to choose the easy path of secularism, we cannot be surprised when we encounter opposition to our mission. Furthermore, we cannot be surprised if their opposition escalates to persecution some day. It’s happened many times before.
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many.How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
One day the world may make martyrs of many of us, but if only the sides would be so openly obvious. The majority of the persecution and attacks will hide in good intentions, temporary happy feelings, and subtle lies.
Even still, we are well aware of the odds. The worst possibly outcome is martyrdom, but an express pass to heaven would be the eternal reward. Nothing can break our hope or take away our love.
Our history is full of great witnesses to this Truth, but it will not stop repeating itself. Some will continue to believe that they can bully us into leaving our faith.
Don’t stop believing.
We need humility to remember that our meaning in life is found beyond us. When we view life through that lens, we can joyfully embrace persecution as a blessing rather than a curse. It’s not easy, but love always takes work.
True happiness will only be found in the acceptance from our Father into heaven, and never in acceptance from this world. May God grant us the strength and graces we need.