Words hurt. They do.
As I write this, my family has just been attacked by loved ones for our decision to go plant churches in Germany. We are the “crazies.” We are the overly-devoted. Somehow it seems we’ve lost touch with reality.
This happens more often than you would think. When you start taking a stand for your beliefs, or worse: actively doing something because of them, people will think you are crazy.
I know that the offending party in this case and every instance like it holds values very different from my own. I should expect this kind of thing. I should be used to it by now. Yet here I am, hurt to the core, feeling alone with my wife on this road we’re on, like no one gets it.
I know we’re not alone. I also know that the gospel is offensive.1 I know that the “en vogue” movement right now is not just to be an atheist, but to be a militant, inflammatory, smartest-and-most-enlightened-person-in-the-room atheist. In the age-old religious analogy of the blind men exploring the elephant, the modern atheist poses himself as the only man in the illustration with sight, the only one who can seethe blindness of the blind men.
I get all that.
And still, words hurt.
Even more so when you weren’t intended to see them and the person’s true feelings are borne more vividly than you ever thought imaginable.
Maybe that’s why Jesus spent so much time preparing his disciples to be mistreated.
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” —Matthew 5:11-12
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” —John 15:18-20
Christians, the call to be a Christian is a call to be uncomfortable. Tonight, my wife’s and my heart are in anguish; we are far from comfortable. But in this moment, we can find strength in the fact that we know we are right in the center of God’s will. If everyone “got it,” it would be very likely that we had “missed it.”
“Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Given the choice between “sticks-and-stones,” and “words,” I’ll take physical abuse every time. But given the choice between the God of the Universe, and avoiding such words, I’ll take the verbal abuse every time.
And I’ll praise God in the midst of it.
1 – 2 Corinthians 2:15-16