I’ll admit it: there’s a part of me that really likes attention. There’s a problem, though: sometimes I can like it a little too much. I don’t seek it out (and if I did, I’d probably do a better job of selling books), but it’s nice to be asked to be part of radio interviews, TV stuff (long story), and podcasts.
Nevertheless, it’s there—and the expectation is there. Maybe you’ve felt it, too. No matter who you are, it seems you need a platform these days. And if you’re a pastor, it seems to be doubly expected, especially if you want to reach all-star levels of attendance, get book deals and all that other stuff. But there’s something to consider: what if God’s calling you not to a ministry of notoriety or adoration, but of rejection? This the point of my latest post at TGC:
As the great and true prophet, Jesus himself shares in their experience as well. He’s rejected in Nazareth, his hometown, as he announces he’s Isaiah’s promised rescuer. Rather than honor him, they try to throw him off a cliff (Luke 4:16–30). He’s rejected by the elders and priests, betrayed and denied by his followers, put on trial, mocked, scourged, and brutally executed.
Can you imagine how difficult this would be? To know that the call to repent and believe will have the exact opposite effect? That every word coming from your mouth, no matter how much love you exhibit, will be the stench of death to those who hear (2 Cor. 2:16)? That’s not the kind of ministry most—or any—of us would be quick to sign up for. And just as God has called some to this ministry throughout the ages, he may be calling you to it as well. You may faithfully preach the gospel Sunday in and Sunday out without any visible fruit.
This isn’t a pretty thought for many of us. It’s not the stuff from which megachurches are built. And yet it’s probably the reality for more of us than we realize. We speak, we pray, we plead . . . and there’s nothing—not from our vantage point at least. Many receive our words as no more consequential than the incoherent mutterings of Charlie Brown’s school teacher.
My wife and I deal with this on a regular basis. For years we’ve tried to share the gospel with many, and it’s seemingly passed right over. One family member heard the gospel and became a practicing Buddhist. Two other friends stopped speaking to us for a number of months. One of my oldest friends cut ties with me after learning I’d become a Christian. That kind of rejection would be unbearable if I didn’t remember where to find hope amid discouragement. Only God can open blind eyes and unstop deaf ears.