“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.&rdquo (Matthew 5:10-12)
Jesus was not speaking of someone who is looked down upon because they have a tattoo of a cross on their chest. Nor was He speaking of someone who is picked on because they happen to listen to Christian music. He was hitting at the core of what it means to be a follower of Christ: those who are sold out completely to living a life for Him will have the scent of the Spirit of God on their lives. This scent is the smell of death for those who are dying spiritually. For this reason, true followers of Christ will be rejected.
However, Believers who allow the corruption of the world to filter into their lives eventually become a weak testimony of Jesus Christ. Their values and behaviors run too closely alongside those whose lives are given over to all manner of selfishness and moral perversity. Christians who do not hold to their faith typically are not persecuted, for there is no reason to be. They are not making a loud enough stand against the systems of the world to merit being silenced.
Unfortunately, when Christians lead this kind of life, they may not be experiencing adversity for the sake of the Gospel, but neither are they experiencing the blessing of living a life of genuine righteousness. Satan has no need to harass those who have strayed from the Word of God; they have already been rendered ineffective as witnesses for Christ, and therefore are no longer a spiritual threat to him.
Those who choose to take a stand against the world and its evils are guaranteed to experience opposition, hatred, abandonment and rejection. But Jesus promised that while His followers may appear to lose everything in this life, they gain an incredible reward in the next one. Jesus likened them to the prophets of old who faithfully spoke the words of the Lord to their dying generation. Many of these prophets were killed for the stand they took against the wickedness of the world.
Strong Christians today who are not afraid to speak the truth of God's Word may not be martyred for their faith, but they certainly will not be considered a guest of honor at a secular social gathering either. To be rejected by the world means to be accepted by Christ, and honored by the Father just as Christ was honored for His obedience.