Happy are you when people insult you and harass you and speak all kinds of bad and false things about you, all because of me. — Matthew 5:11
Throughout my years in pastoral ministry, I never cared for the occasional time when I received one of “those” emails, letters, or phone calls. Someone was upset because of a sermon, program, conversation, action, or person. Instead of serving as a critique that could yield helpful information, correction, or perspective, their response served as a vehicle to simply vent.
I never got over the sting of these occasions, but gradually was able to dull the pain a bit. It came with the realization that being on the receiving end of an accusatory email was sometimes a validation of your work.
Whenever we Christians take a risk and stand for the things we believe Jesus would stand for, we make the world a bit nervous. There’s comfort in preserving yesterday, no matter how flawed it actually was. To advocate for compassion and justice, which usually ends up up-ending the status quo, has consequences. It’s like a law of physics: for each action there’s an equal and opposite reaction.
Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be, though. Those pain points hold promise. The angry ones are also the ones encountering (hopefully) love-in-action, and that may lead to their spiritual growth (eventually) in some small way.
Regardless, there is a payoff for persecution. Jesus said you’d be “happy” when harassed. Maybe it’s happiness that in some small way you’ve tried to follow his path in doing good. Transitional crosses of different shapes and sizes may result. Resurrection, though, has the last word.