It’s all the rage to be outraged by bullying, in the classroom and on the internet. But we see the essence of bullying played out in boardrooms, churches, truckstops, home owner associations, newsrooms and countless other adult social situations. Bullying is pervasive. At its root, it grows out of the strong pull we humans feel to conform. Non-conformists get ostracized. Others participate in various forms of ostracism (a form of bullying) to make themselves feel accepted. That’s why Bob Dylan got booed at Newport, why you see “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Service” and why most churches and clubs have a dress code (even if it is unwritten).
Jesus understood that His followers would be bullied and worse. He knew social rejection had always been the fate of those who lived by the upside-down principles of the kingdom of heaven. That’s why He said:
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12)
No question about it, getting in step with Jesus puts you out of step with most of the rest of the world. Don’t be surprised by what the world does to people who play by different rules. Later on, Jesus explained it further to His followers:
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. (John 15:18-19)
Why would anyone knowingly sign up for such treatment? You play football, you are going to get clobbered. But its worth it. Those who play hard are rewarded. So it is with those who play on Jesus’ team. His game plan is for those who have received His Spirit to be noticeably different, to be “salt and light” in the world and to thereby attract others to Him for eternal life. You will get clobbered, but it will be worth it.