Laying Down Shame from Unpopularity

 

Shame RX: The acceptance of God is our refuge when we feel shame from the scorn of man.

John 12:43 (ESV)

“For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”

I have a confession to make. As much as I could care less about popularity, it is hard when you are in the presence of others who have been tainted by gossip they heard about you. You can feel the disdain, and this, sometimes from Christians.

So then, unpopularity is a shaming of sorts. That place where you feel minimized, judged, shunned and sometimes excluded simply because you are not liked.

Well, we all know it is more simple than that. It is a spiritual matter.

People don’t pause to reflect or consider why they feel a certain way about another person. Someone may have influenced them with a negative viewpoint about another individual but they don’t recognize that the person they are despising is so very loved by God and unconditionally forgiven. And while we are on the subject of forgiveness, if someone had done something wrong, ought we not to forgive and accept them as we have been forgiven and accepted?

So while man goes around seeking to defame one another, the Lover of our souls esteems us.

The acceptance of God is our refuge when we feel shame from the scorn of man.

Lack of popularity with man might be the very thing that gives us favor with God. Instead of being distracted by seeking favor with man, we see our real need—to seek God and His forgiveness.

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Truthful Tuesday: Temporal Popularity

Jeremiah 20:7-13

7 LORD, you coerced me into being a prophet, and I allowed you to do it. You overcame my resistance and prevailed over me. Now I have become a constant laughingstock. Everyone ridicules me. 8 For whenever I prophesy, I must cry out, “Violence and destruction are coming!” This message from the LORD has made me an object of continual insults and derision. 9 Sometimes I think, “I will make no mention of his message. I will not speak as his messenger any more.” But then his message becomes like a fire locked up inside of me, burning in my heart and soul. I grow weary of trying to hold it in; I cannot contain it. 10 I hear many whispering words of intrigue against me. Those who would cause me terror are everywhere! They are saying, “Come on, let’s publicly denounce him!” All my so-called friends are just watching for something that would lead to my downfall. They say, “Perhaps he can be enticed into slipping up, so we can prevail over him and get our revenge on him. 11 But the LORD is with me to help me like an awe-inspiring warrior. Therefore those who persecute me will fail and will not prevail over me. They will be thoroughly disgraced because they did not succeed. Their disgrace will never be forgotten. 12 O LORD who rules over all, you test and prove the righteous. You see into people’s hearts and minds. Pay them back for what they have done because I trust you to vindicate my cause. 13 Sing to the LORD! Praise the LORD! For he rescues the oppressed from the clutches of evildoers.”

Luke 4:22, 24, 28

“All were speaking well of him, and were amazed at the gracious words coming out of his mouth. They said, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”  24 And he added, “I tell you the truth, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown… 28  When they heard this, all the people in the synagogue were filled with rage.”

They did not call Jeremiah the weeping prophet for no reason.  I have wasted too many tears myself lamenting (pun intended), the people who have rejected me.  The place we each hold in this society tells our story before we can.  Gender, occupation, financial status, appearance and our beliefs all speak volumes about us and are perceived differently by each person,as well.

Peers who have chosen a similar path hold similar views.  As a woman, another woman perceives of me quite differently than a man would.  As a home educator, as a mother, and most importantly as a Christian, I represent each facet that I embody.  While this can mean kudos to us when we are surrounded by like-minded people, the tendency of mankind to judge those who are different will likely mean rejection for us at some point.

Popularity is a fruitless pursuit, however, in that it is superficial and evaporates about as fast as we bask in it.  Although no one enjoys being cast aside as different or odd, it is the glory and privilege of a Christian to be so, and our calling.  We will not be popular when we serve God in a godless society, but the eternal rewards we reap will be worth it.

Seeing how Christ, the perfect One, was treated one moment and then discarded the next is a comfort to us who are so treated.  Cliques and groups that exclude others may or may not have a motive of inflicting harm, but we who have accepted the gift of salvation never have to despair of losing our position in Christ, for in Him we always belong.  Amen!

Lord, thank You for choosing us and never letting us go!!!  Help us to rejoice in You and be grateful to be identified with You!

Thoughtful Thursday: Popularity’s Demise

Job 19:17-19; 25-27

17 My breath is repulsive to my wifeI am loathsome to my brothers. 18 Even youngsters have scorned me; when I get up, they scoff at me. 19 All my closest friends detest me; and those whom I love have turned against me. 25 As for me, I know that my Redeemer livesand that as the last he will stand upon the earth26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God27 whom I will see for myself, and whom my own eyes will beholdand not another.  My heart grows faint within me.

Job 20:5-11, 15, 26-29

20:5 “The elation of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. 6 Even though his stature reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds7 he will perish forever, like his own excrement; those who used to see him will say, ‘Where is he?’ 8 Like a dream he flies away, never again to be found, and like a vision of the night he is put to flight9 People who had seen him will not see him againand the place where he was will recognize him no longer10 His sons must recompense the poorhis own hands must return his wealth11 His bones were full of his youthful vigor, but that vigor will lie down with him in the dust. 15 The wealth that he consumed he vomits up, God will make him throw it out of his stomach. 26 Total darkness waits to receive his treasures; a fire which has not been kindled will consume him and devour what is left in his tent27 The heavens reveal his iniquitythe earth rises up against him28 A flood will carry off his houserushing waters on the day of God’s wrath29 Such is the lot God allots the wicked,and the heritage of his appointment from God.”

The here and now is powerful.  Our senses are keenly aware of our current joys and sufferings.  The status we hold before men contributes to our condition, unless we catch a glimpse of God.

I suppose many folks like to avoid the book of Job.  While it is painful to read of his suffering and God’s hand in it, the book of Job has become an incredible comfort to me.  Here we see the comparison of a righteous man, suffering greatly and quite unpopular, to a wicked person who is popular and prospering.  Talk about afflicted.  Job is covered head to toe with sores, his children are no more, his wife suggests he curse God and die – and gee whiz, even Job’s breath stinks.  If we were to be honest, we probably would not want to hang out with him, either, and toast marshmallows.

Job is honest about his condition.  He does not sugar coat it and say shallow religious statements.  He is transparent and genuine – sometimes folks do not like that.  It is far easier to condemn someone who is stricken – they must have some blame for their punishment, right?

But in the midst of that very dark place, Job rises from the ashes and proclaims that his greatest joy is his hope in God.  He will see him.  He is confident of this.  He might not understand why God allowed all this turmoil, but he recognizes that this temporary suffering will one day end.  The lack of discomfort is not his joy – sure, he will not mind being restored, but it is finally seeing His God in his flesh, that gives him the strength to walk through the dark valleys.

Who is this God that Job looks to?  His Redeemer.  The One who takes terrible situations and redeems them.  Job knew this suffering was not all for naught – it would be redeemed.  The temporary pleasure of being popular could never compare to an eternity of reward in His majestic presence.

Contrast this picture with the wicked one who is popular, wealthy and seemingly does not know suffering in this world. What will this temporary popularity give him?  Eternal suffering.  It seems popularity is not all it is cracked up to be.  It does not hold, however, that all righteous people will be unpopular and poor.  If God wants to grant favor or increase our position for His glory, ultimately any fame we would have on this earth is His alone.

We all will have troubles in this world – Jesus promised that.  Times of enjoying popularity and of scorn.  He chose unpopularity to save our souls.  Wow, what a reward.  For today’s generation, popularity is held by the number of likes they get when they post a picture or a statement.  Scores of people are just trying to get more people to follow them – for what?Does more numbers truly equal popularity?  But if we do have people engaged in our lives, listening to our message, may we not shrink back from proclaiming Christ even when it might not be well liked on our social media.  It might not be popular to take a righteous stand, but we will be in good company with those servants of God who were faithful to dispense God’s truth despite being unpopular – Noah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, Jesus.

Success in the world’s eyes is not the same in God’s.  As we pursue to be faithful to God, we may not be liked by man.  Job did ultimately see God’s favor again and the fiery trials ended.  But, his greatest joy was not the end of pain, but the hope of one day casting his crowns at the feet of Jesus, overcome with joy in His presence when His Redeemer removed all of the sorrows that plagued him and turned them into gold.

Lord, help us to trust you when we feel unloved or stricken.  Help us to focus on the gift we have in You rather than the sorrows or joys in the present.  May we trust you when life hurts and choose to delight in You, not the gifts this world may offer.