Blessed are you when people 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 in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matthew 5:11-12).
These persecuted ones whom Jesus blesses so richly: Do they know who they are?
As Jesus tells the great parable of judgment, the king will bless the righteous whom he claims ministered to him in his poverty.
Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” (Matthew 25:37-38)
They have no idea they ever met him, much less that they served him. For whatever reason, they gave sustenance, clothing, and company to the wretched of the earth and entertained much more than an angel, totally unawares.
What blinds them to their own righteousness?
I meet so many young people who parent their parents, hoping to see them happy again one fine morning. Somehow they make it to college, feeling guilty because the parents remain at home, unhappy. The parental children feel like failures.
Such young people may never see fruits proportional to their tilling, planting, and watering. In our cultural obsession with measurable and profitable outcomes, those who love much and reap little feel like failures. They question whether they really loved at all. After all, shouldn’t love, in its supremacy, necessarily succeed?
In a just world, those who love will not suffer punishment. Moreover, in a just world, love always succeeds, so the stranger, naked, sick, and imprisoned must have violated justice to get in that mess, and we waste our time on them.
Well, if you follow Jesus, it looks like you have to walk that logic back. Jesus came to redeem an unjust world that devalues the very love by which God created it and to which God calls us. But Jesus refused to do it alone. Jesus called a cadre of those foolish enough to love anyway.
Do you love anyway?
Do you ever feel like a fool for it? Do you wonder whether the time, money, and energy you spent on love amounts to a landfill full of garbage? Do you ever want to rewind and see how your life would turn out with a more calculating, self-interested approach?
Mark my word: Despite all appearances, love, in the end, will not go to waste. Despite the shame and humiliation of apparent failure, you will receive honor. Your love will glorify God. For God is love.
Choosing Goodness With No Reward In Sight
Facing Failure: The Secret to Spiritual Maturity and Resilience
Live Your Truth
Keeping Faith Amid an Invalidating Environment
Peacemaker In the Family: A Salute and a Challenge