It doesn’t matter how loving you are or how articulate you are. No amount of charity and goodwill on your part will help you to avoid it.
If you are seriously committed to following Jesus, you will be called names.
Here are a few of my favorites.
And then there are the ones that I can’t print here with this being a family blog and all.
The first step to responding to the name calling is simple. Simple to understand, that is. It’s not always simple to apply.
When Paul was on trial for his faith in Christ, we are told that he was cheerful in his defense (Acts 24:10). Peter tells his readers to rejoice because their suffering is a reminder of their union with Christ (1 Peter 4:12-14).
So the next time someone calls you a right-wing, hate-filled Bible thumper because you quote a Bible verse, take it with a smile.
When religious leaders brought Paul before the governor, they referred to him as a “plague.” Although much has changed in the hundreds of years since the Paul Plague, some things have not. The world still sees Christians as a plague.
In a world where it’s completely normal for grown men to self-identity as six-year-old girls, the absolute worst thing that could be said about any Christian is that they fit right in. But still, that’s what many leaders in the church are trying to do. So we have pastors pretending to be celebrities on the Oprah channel and so-called Christian professors wearing Muslim headgear because, “we worship the same god.”
The Church will not make a difference in the world by acting just like it. Difference comes by being different. That’s what Jesus meant when he told his disciples to be salt and light. Salt is different from the decay around it. Light is different from the darkness. If not, what’s the purpose?
The call to follow Christ is a call to be different. Not by making signs that tell people who God hates and screaming on some college campus. And not by dressing like it’s the 1800s. No, the difference we are called to make comes by living a lifestyle that reflects the gospel. And no matter how kindly you do that, you will face hardship. Salt and light aren’t always welcomed guests.
At best, you will be called names.
But you could also lose your job.
Or family and friends could abandon you.
And you could even have your head removed from the rest of your body.
Regardless of the package that persecution comes to your door wrapped in, take it with a smile. Jesus was ridiculed, abandoned by loved ones, beaten and murdered. Why should you expect to be treated any different from your Master?
It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. Matthew 10:25 (ESV)
Jesus didn’t come to give you a life of ease. He didn’t come to make you popular. And he didn’t come for your glory. He came for his glory.
And a real good way for that glory to be seen is on the smiling face of one of his followers who has just been called some terrible name.
So the next time you are called a hater, a bigot, a plague or worse, just remember, you’re in good company.
And whatever hardship you face on this earth is no match for the eternal joy that awaits you when your time here is done and you are with Christ forever.
Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good. 1 Peter 4:19 (ESV)