1 Peter 4:14-16, alive and kicking, all experience persecution, disposing of cats and dogs, face rejection, Jesus on persecution, Luke 6:22-26, not persecuted for faith, real persecution, return to your first love, Revelation 2:4-5, swimming against the tide, truthful or popular
22 “Blessed are you when men hate you and when they exclude you, And revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.”
26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way.” Luke 6:22,26
Believers need to understand there are real causes for persecution. Jesus affirms such reasons in this passage. Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many Christians are persecuted not for their faith or for Christ, but because they are so unpleasant to be around. Some believers are rude, insensitive, thoughtless, and piously obnoxious. Others face rejection because they are thought to be proud and judgmental. These folks are the butt of jokes and constant harassment. I know there is no premium on stupidity… but it is these types of dues we needn’t pay. Peter warned us long ago about this issue.
If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of Glory and of God rests on you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. 15 But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. 16 Yet if any suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. 1 Peter 4:14-16
According to Peter, there is no intrinsic merit in being rejected and persecuted, but only in being thus mistreated on account of our service for Christ. It is impossible to negate all the hate out in the world. All true professors of Christ will experience some level of persecution. Jesus emphatically stated, “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you.” (John 15:20) Our call is to expect persecution, not create it.
Knowing this, Jesus warns His followers of the persecution which will surely follow the real believer. A paraphrase of verse 26 says, “There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests. Your task is to be true, not popular.” I like being both truthful and popular. How about you? When the world pushes us, and it surely will… we will ultimately have to sacrifice our truth or our popularity. If in the end we find men speaking well of us, then we have sacrificed our truth.
There is an old saying, “Even a dead dog can swim with the tide.” To swim against the tide you have to be alive and kicking. A person who is persecuted because of Christ is the only one truly living. Resistance is not futile…it proves you are alive for the Lord. Persecution becomes the only true gauge of how closely we are walking with Christ. If you find the tide always going the other direction, it is not a curse but simply an indicator. Keep swimming! There is nothing in the world’s waters you need anyway. When we do latch on to worldly items floating round, we stop swimming and thus drift with the tide.
In New York City, there are eight million cats and eleven million dogs. New York City is basically just concrete and steel, so when you have a pet in New York City and it dies, you can’t just go out in the back yard and bury it. A while back the city authorities decided that for $50, they would dispose of your deceased pet for you. (I don’t think this is the case now.)
One lady was enterprising. She thought, I can render a service to people in the city and save them money. She placed an ad in the newspaper that said, “When your pet dies, I will come and take care of the carcass for you for $25.” This lady would go to the local Salvation Army and buy an old suitcase for two dollars. Then when someone would call about his or her pet, she would go to the home and put the deceased pet in the suitcase.
She would then take a ride on the subway, where there were thieves. She would set the suitcase down, and she would act like she wasn’t watching. A thief would come by and steal her suitcase. She’d look up and half-heartedly cry, “Wait. Stop. Thief.” My guess is the people who stole those suitcases got a real surprise when they got home.
A lot of us are like those New York thieves. We’re chasing after anything we think will bring fulfillment. When we get it home… it is not what we thought it would be in the beginning. Life attractions simply fail to deliver. Once we latch on to them, the tides of the world cause us to drift and we lose the ground we had gained.
If you find that your zeal or spiritual hunger is not what it should be, then I give you the same counsel that Jesus gave to the church in Ephesus which had left it’s first love. What Jesus said to them, He is saying to us. “You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Revelation 2:4,5)