“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.” Luke 6:22-23 KJV
For some of us, as we go through our journey in life, we make careful efforts to avoid criticism, persecution and suffering along the way. From the time we are very small, we learn (whether through our own fearfulness or at the hands of an insecure bully) that being different, particularly when it comes to taking an unpopular stance on a subject can make us the target of hurtful ridicule. Many times, our natural response to adversity or opposition is often to suppress the “unique” parts of our personality or style, to attempt to conform to our surroundings – or at least the majority opinion – to avoid being our real or authentic selves at all costs.
However, as we get older, we begin to understand that some things in life, some aspects of who we are, are worth fighting for. We come into the understanding that the characteristics that make us different are also the source of our value, and many times gives us our “reason for being”. After all, I don’t know about you, but there is only one ME on the planet! No matter how much my siblings may look sound, sound, or act like me, they can’t be me – and I say that with all the love and humility in the world. As a Christian, I understand that I was “made in the image of God”, that “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, that I have a place, a position, and a purpose to fulfill in the Kingdom of God.
In Luke 6:22-23, Jesus is speaking to his disciples and followers and he lets them know that rather than considering it a reason to cry and be sad when men reject them because they belong to him, they should rejoice, they should leap for joy. The Message version says it this way: “Count yourself blessed every time someone cuts you down or throws you out, every time someone smears or blackens your name to discredit me.” Verse 23 goes on to say that when this happens, you have a great reward in heaven and “know that you are in good company; my preachers and witnesses have always been treated like this” (MSG). When you belong to the Lord, and suffer for the sake of His Name being glorified, the scripture tells us that this is a good sign, and not the catastrophic occurence we often think it to be.
Many of the world’s greatest minds, and most influential people, at some time suffered greatly – and some were killed – because of the very quality that allowed them to make their indelible mark in history. God’s act of making man in His image brought glory to His Name – YOUR existence is meant to bring glory to His Name. So when you are attacked for doing just that, it is no longer about you as the creation, but it now becomes a concern of the Creator. And tonight, the Creator says to you: Do not mourn, do not fear, do not be afraid!
Rejection for being who God has called you to be is not a sign that something is wrong with you; instead it is affirmation that you are RIGHT where He wants you. Embrace the call of God on your life, even when it makes you stand out. Celebrate who you were Divinely created to be, and LEAP FOR JOY in the midst of adversity!