“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:26
For most of us it is a natural desire and pursuit to be liked and spoken well of by others. I know that this is true in my own life. However, Jesus issues a strong warning to his followers in Luke 6:26. It is an indicator that something is askew when the Christ-follower is spoken of favorably by the world because of their convictions (or lack-thereof) since the world’s system is so opposed to the teachings of Scripture.
The Christian whom is spoken well of by everyone, is equated to the Old Testament false prophets. While Scripture states much about false prophets, Jeremiah provided a few key descriptors: speaking from their own minds instead of the Word of God and affirming those who hate the Word of God and/or revel in sin (Jeremiah 23:16-17). To the contrary, Jesus taught “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.” (Luke 6:22)
What a stark contrast! Unlike the false prophets who sought the approval of others, the obedient prophets in the Old Testament were often hated, spurned, and excluded. Life was difficult and costly (see Hebrews11:32-38). It will be the same for 21st century Christ-followers. Holiness and obedience will lead to persecution (2 Timothy 3:12). We will be hated when we are identified with Jesus Christ. We will be hated when we remain steadfast to the truths of Scripture in areas including, but not limited to, traditional marriage, sexual purity, the sanctity of human life, and the exclusivity of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ alone. It will be costly in ways which are not yet fully realized.
For followers of Christ living today, we have a choice to make. Will we identify with Jesus Christ and hold fast to His Word, or give our affirmation and approval of sin through our silence, our words, or our actions? There is no middle ground; we can either be a friend of Christ or the world, but not both (James 4:4). Likewise, we cannot stray from the commands of Christ to proclaim the gospel to the dying world and making disciples.
No matter the difficulty to come and the associated costs, may I always identify with Jesus Christ alone. This is my prayer for me, my family, and my friends. May it be your conviction and prayer as well.
So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood. Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured. For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come. Hebrews 13:12-14