This was first posted on July 31, 2008.
I was thinking this afternoon (that's dangerous, I know) about Jesus statement to his disciples that they could expect to be hated and persecuted because he was. When I was growing up I was always taught that this meant if I didn't dress like the world, didn't listen to the same music as the world, and didn't hang around with worldly people, then those folks would hate me, make fun of me, call me names, etc. It would be okay though, because Jesus had been hated, been made fun of, and been called names. That message is still being preached in some churches around the country.
There is no question that Jesus was hated and persecuted by some of the people in his day. Heck, they even put him to death! But, I started to think about the folks who did the persecuting and the reasons why. Amazingly enough, it was not the "sinners" that hated Jesus, made fun of him and called him names. Those were the very people who followed Jesus. They were the ones who hung on his every word and who believed that he was the Messiah.
It was the religious leaders who hounded Jesus wherever he went, always looking for a way to trip him up and get him in trouble. They were the ones who said Jesus had a demon and implied that he was an illegitimate child. And, they called Jesus names like drunkard and glutton because he hung out with the "sinners". Wait a minute. I thought the sinners, the ones who drink and party, are the very people I'm supposed to stay away from so my "testimony" isn't damaged. I mean, heaven forbid someone should see me go into a bar or attend a party where "lost" people are gathered. They might start calling me a drunk or something like that, or at least might think that I'm not a very good Christian.
After all, I'm supposed to be a follower of Jesus and he would never put himself in a position where others would see him hanging out with the riff-raff and think badly of him. Would he?
Wait, you mean...?
From my opportunity to teach in our gathering this morning:
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