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Jesus from Passion of the Christ

The World’s Rejection of Christians

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One of the clearest teachings found in the New Testament is this: if you throw your lot in with Jesus Christ, commit to being his follower, and decide to proclaim him wherever you go, you will be hated on. There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this one – the disciple of Christ will be rejected by the world.

You cannot read the gospel accounts, the book of Acts, the epistles, or Revelation without repeatedly noting how often Christ-followers are persecuted, attacked, abused and hated – all because of their association with Christ. And of course 2000 years of church history also demonstrates this conclusively.

But none of this should be surprising. As Jesus said, the servant is not above his master. So what the world did to Jesus is exactly what the world will do to Christians. And guess what? The world hated Jesus. The world rejected Jesus. The world crucified Jesus.

Trendy progressive Christians insist that if we just love a lot and don’t rock the boat, everyone will receive us and welcome us. Sorry, but no go. The most loving and gracious man to walk the earth was Jesus, yet still the world rejected him.

Sure, some folks did receive him and follow him, but for the most part, the crowds rejected him. They wanted nothing to do with him. They wanted him out of their lives. In my morning reading I again came upon this basic truth. We find these amazing words in Matthew:

“Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region” (Matthew 8:34). Wow, what a brief but telling look at how Jesus was received. Are you having trouble getting people to love you and accept you because you are a Christian? Well, welcome to the club.

You are simply following in Jesus’ footsteps. Nothing new here. Nothing out of the ordinary. You are just being treated as Jesus was treated. Now of course we must be careful here. Some Christians are being rejected and disliked, not because they are so Christlike, but because they may just be real chumps!

They may be obnoxious, annoying, uncaring pests who of course rightly repel people. So we must take care here: if you are shunned by the world, is it because you are living a real Christians life, or because you are just a pain in the butt to be around? It is always good to be doing a bit of a check-up here in this regard.

But having said that, if we seek to be as Christ-like and Spirit-filled and gracious and loving as we can be, we will still be rejected by the world. Let me go back to this passage for a moment. The context of this story is found in Matthew 8:28-34. It involves the episode of how Jesus restored two demon-possessed men:

When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”

He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.

We can see a big reason here for the rejection of Jesus: obviously the owners of the pigs were quite upset about all the financial loss involved. In the account of this story found in Mark we learn that the swine numbered about two thousand (Mark 5:13).

No wonder they got so angry. And of interest, we find this often in the days of the early Christians community. The world especially goes ballistic when the proclamation of the gospel leads to any sort of financial loss. For example, we read about riots occurring in the book of Acts following gospel presentations which led to ruined businesses and the like.

In Acts 16:16-40 for example we read about how a demon was cast out of a female slave by Paul and Silas. She had “earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling”. When they found out her money-making abilities were now gone, all hell broke loose.

We find the same in Acts 19:23-41 where we learn about a “silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in a lot of business for the craftsmen there.” He railed against Paul and his anti-idol gospel, and as a result a riot broke out in Ephesus.

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