In yesterday’s A La Carte post I included this quote by Matthew Henry: “Christ’s followers cannot expect better treatment in the world than their Master had.” I liked it enough that I later added it to Twitter where it was retweeted many times. Later in the day I found myself thinking about these words a little bit and found them rather convicting. What Henry says is true, of course: those who follow Jesus should not expect to be treated better than he was. This is attested throughout the New Testament and it is displayed in the history of the early church. Those who followed Jesus suffered. Those who followed Jesus most closely suffered most.
But here is what I found convicting: I am treated quite well in the world. Becoming a pastor has been interesting in that it seems to be a position that commands respect. When someone asks what I do and I reply that I am a pastor, most people respond quite positively. Often people immediately want to confess a sin or to confess why they no longer attend church. What has been consistent, though, is that they treat me well. And, really, this has been my lifelong experience as a Christian. I like a good quote about suffering as a Christian as much as anyone, but they ring true theoretically more than experientially.
And all of this makes me wonder, if Henry is right, could it be that the reason we are treated better than Christ is that we are not faithful to bring the same message he brought? Are we faithful to bring it to the lost with the same force and the same motivation? Are we really like him if we are not treated like him?