“You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. All men will hate you because of Me.” Luke 21:16-17
It is human nature to want to be liked by other people. No matter the stage of life, all of us, to some degree, care what others think. While this tends to be at its peak during the teenage years, even as adults we compare ourselves to and try to impress our peers. And if we aren’t careful, we can begin to live our lives to please people rather than to please God.
In Luke 21, Jesus is warning His disciples of what is to come. If they choose to live the life of Christ, they are forfeiting an easy, comfortable life. They will give up the approval of man. In fact, they will ensure the betrayal, persecution, and hatred of man. Perhaps the most shocking news to them was that this betrayal would not only come from Christian-haters, but from those closest to them.
Parents, brothers, relatives and friends would not only betray them…but would kill some of them because of Christ. That is indeed what happened. Most people believe that all of the 12 disciples, with the exception of Judas (who killed himself) and John (who died of natural causes) were martyred for their faith in Christ. And yet, Jesus promises them in Luke 21:18-19 that, “Not a hair on your head will perish,” because, “by standing firm, you will gain life.” How is that possible? Christ’s promise wasn’t that a hair on their heads wouldn’t be harmed, but that it wouldn’t perish. By standing firm in the faith, even at the risk of death, Christ’s disciples gained what men can never take away – eternal life. That is why the Apostle Paul said, “To live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Are you willing to give up relationships for the sake of Christ? Is His approval the most important to you, or are you living to please other people? Following Jesus has a cost. This cost is different for every person. What have you given up to follow Christ?
Dear Father, You are worth whatever I may lose on this earth for Your sake. Thank You that what I gain is eternal. Please help me to be faithful to You, even when it is hard. Make me willing to follow You even when doing so brings mockery or hatred from people in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.