of the major causes of unhappiness is trying to be like everybody else hoping that everybody will like you. There is a myth that says, “In order to be happy I must be accepted and approved by everybody.” The truth is, that is an impossible task; it will never make you happy. In fact it will make you miserable. You just can’t please everybody.
Jesus was a realist and was very honest about the consequences of following him. He said (I’m paraphrasing many passages here), If you follow Me there are many people who aren’t going to approve of your decisions, they’re not going to like it and consequently they will not like you. In fact, some will reject you as well as harass you. If you live by the Beatitudes you can expect some people to be upset. So in His closing statement there, Matthew 5:10, he says “Blessed [Happy!] are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
This statement was so shocking He repeats it twice. Again, in the next verses,
“Blessed [Happy!] are you when men 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 men persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Jesus gives more space to this one Beatitude than any other. And He personalizes it. This is the only Beatitude that says “you.” While all the other Beatitudes deal with the character of the Christian, in this one He just sums it up and deals with the character of the world, and how it treats the Christian who has the first seven characteristics in his or her life.
He’s saying happy and healthy are those who can handle rejection. He’s saying happy and healthy are those whose character is so solid and whose identity is so secure, they can withstand any attack. Yes, they can make it through life without everybody liking them.
Note that He doesn’t say if you’re persecuted, if you’re insulted, but “when you are persecuted.” Be prepared. Don’t be caught off guard. As the world gets more and more secular it’s getting more and more hostile to Christianity. He doesn’t say if you’re harassed, He says, “when you’re harassed.” That’s the reality.
What are the reasons for harassment? The second part of verse 11, “… because you are My followers.” He’s not talking about racial harassment, sexual harassment or being put down for being obnoxious.
Sometimes people set themselves up as martyrs. They may be irritating, stubborn or just plain obnoxious. Then they wonder why people put them down. That’s not what Jesus is talking about.
Also, He’s not talking here about the self-righteous Christian: “I’m so great and you’re so bad and God’s called me to tell you all your sins.” The media is merciless toward Christians — putting them down and attacking them. But the ones they are generally attacking are the self-righteous ones.
The right reason for harassment is, “’A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you.” (John 15:20)
Let’s strive to be like Jesus. Let’s be loving, kind, forgiving, showing mercy to those who need mercy. Then if and when harassment comes we can accept it and move on, continuing toward being more like Jesus. Whatever you do, don’t get caught up in what other people think about you and whether they like, accept or approve of you. ONE is our Master. His name is Jesus Christ.