“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”
Its safe to say I have spent most of my life striving to protect myself from this fate: being hated, excluded, reviled and spurned as evil. The times of deepest emotional distress have come in the middle of deep rejection. Although my memory fails me time and time again, I can remember the words and sting of rejection. I will do everything in my power to avoid conflict. The pursuit of acceptance, inclusion, praise and arms of embrace has led me to make decisions I would never have otherwise. My worst “nightmares” typically involve some type of public shaming. For a long time, I thought that as long as no one hated me, no one excluded me, no one thought badly of me…life would be sweet, fulfilling, happy. These are all signposts to idolatry: if I can just have _______, I will be happy. Even as a Christian, I steer clear of people, assignments, etc. that could result in a feeling of shame.
This theme has been exposed in a grand way these last few weeks. As we make the transition into a life of full-time support raised ministry, many have expressed their disapproval, even those we would least expect within the Church. This is not a new experience for us: we heard it when we went down to one car, David heard it when he remained faithful to the woman that broke up with him again and again. I hate feeling stupid, I hate feeling “different” or “crazy” and this time is no different.
And then, there is this unexpected word from Jesus about His kingdom. Blessed is the one that experiences shame. You see, the Shamed One is the King. Friendship with the world is enmity with God. When we follow Him, why do we expect anything less? Because Jesus absorbed all of our shame as a result of our sin, the shame we experience does not control us. Jesus changes the status of shame. Because we are in Christ, we are part of a royal priesthood, sons and daughters of the Living God. We are forever united Jesus Christ, and that association changes everything.