Sometimes, for my sanity, I have to remind myself that when the world is against me, it’s nothing personal. When I get angry comments on my blog because I’ve posted a truth that God gave to us through His inspired Word, I have to remember it’s nothing personal. When the world hates me, it’s nothing personal. When I am mocked or insulted because I behave like Christ instructed, it’s nothing personal. Really, in all of those instances, the world isn’t hating me or rejecting me, they are rejecting Jesus. They are associating me with Jesus and His teaching, and really, that’s a good thing. It’s nothing personal. It’s not about me.
But what about when it is?
What about when Christians mistreat us? What about when our brothers and sisters in Christ betray us? What about when the people closest to us hurt us? It doesn’t feel like ‘nothing personal’ in those moments. It feels very personal. How do I respond then? How do I overcome my hurt feelings and my bitterness then? It seems like I have to approach it the same way Jesus approached it.
You see, for Jesus, it was personal. The Jews hated Him. They hated Who He claimed to be (and was!). They hated that He had a following. They hated that they couldn’t explain away the things He was doing. They hated that He wasn’t a hatable guy. He was loving and compassionate and forgiving. He was meek and spoke with boldness and great authority. But they hated Him nonetheless. They made fun of where He was from. They hated on His family. They spoke down to His followers. They judged His associates. They despised Him so much that they accused Him falsely, plotted against Him, and murdered Him. It was that personal….personal enough that Jesus was crucified.
Yet the Scriptures tell us that, “when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;” (1 Peter 2:23).
The answer to things that are, in fact, very personal to us, is to commit ourselves to God. To allow Him to have vengeance if it comes to that (and we’ll be praying it doesn’t), but to ultimately keep our mouths closed and our hearts shut off from Satan’s advances. We’ll ask God to forgive them, just as Jesus’ example teaches us (Luke 23:24). We’ll love them enough to continue doing God’s will, even if it brings us harm or heartache. We’ll pray for them, do what’s best for them, and be ready to forgive them. We’ll seek their best interests, instead of hoping they find ruin and displeasure apart from us. It won’t be easy, but neither was dying on the cross. Still, Jesus did it for His enemies, so that they could become His brothers and sisters.
The one thing we know about the people we come in contact with on a regular basis — the people who are closest to us — is that they are, in fact, human. Fallible humans. In their quest to do the right thing, they often will not. They will hurt us. They will mistreat us. They will use us. They will act in ways that make no sense at all. But regardless of their actions, our example is still Christ. Our answer is still love, and humble submission to the Father, Whose command is that we love them with a love that seeks their best interest.
My heart wants to be like Jesus, so it struggles with these concepts. It struggles because the natural thing, the worldly thing, would be to lash out or speak disparagingly against or try to ruin their lives. But the unnatural thing, the thing that goes against this culture I live in, is the meek, peaceful, forgiving way. And my heart wants that. It fights for that. Sometimes it loses, but I’m doing my best to keep it in check.