How can I overcome opposition to the truth about Jesus? Part 2

“And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.” John 8:50

From Jesus’ interaction with His opponents in John 8:48-59, we are learning how to overcome opposition to the truth about Jesus in our own lives. The second way we can do this is to AIM FOR THE FATHER’S APPROVAL (John 8:50). Jesus said, “And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges.” (John 8:50). Jesus denies seeking glory for Himself and asserts that there is One who seeks His glory and judges His opponents. Jesus is not concerned about people giving Him the glory that He deserves because His Father in heaven is looking after that. The Father seeks to glorify His Son and judges those who reject Him. The Jews were continually “seeking” Jesus in their mistaken zeal for God’s glory, but their seeking actually resulted in Jesus’ death. Ironically, Christ’s death would turn out to be His ultimate glory (cf. John 12:23, 28; 17:1-5).

Christ was not concerned about pleasing people because His ultimate concern was the approval of His Father in heaven who “judges.” Even though Jesus lived a perfect life, He could not please everyone. So, it is foolish of us to try to do something that even God could not do!

If we are to overcome opposition to the truth about Jesus, we must make it our aim to live for God’s approval and not peoples’. When people reject the truth about Jesus, we do not have to take it personally as though they are rejecting us. But even if they do reject us, we can rejoice because they are rejecting the truth about Jesus. Sometimes we may fear rejection because we are seeking the approval of others. But when we seek God’s approval, His Holy Spirit will enable us to overcome the fear of rejection (cf. Acts 4:29-31).

For example, I think back about my mission trip to an island in the southern Philippines in October 2015 with my pastor friend. On one morning after preaching the gospel at an elementary school, I asked one of the teachers if there were any other schools nearby. He hesitated and then said, “Yes there is another school about a 40-minute hike from here but you don’t want to go there.” “Really?” I said, “Why is that?” He said, “Because it is all Muslim and it is not safe for Christians to go there.” For the next two hours, several Christians tried to persuade us not to go to this school, but I kept asking them if they had gone there and they had not. So, I said, “Who will go if we do not go to them?” They had no answer. At this juncture, we had a choice to make – do we seek to please these believers who do not want us to go or do we seek to please our Father in heaven who desires that all people be saved (I Timothy 2:3-4)?

Eventually my translator and a local Christian tribal leader made the 40-minute hike with me through the mountainous jungle toward the all-Muslim village. With each step, I anticipated what the Lord would do when we got there. What are You going to do when we arrive at this village, Lord? How are You going to protect us? How will these people respond? When we arrived at the Muslim village we were warmly welcomed by the teachers and Muslim principal. One of the teachers said they expected us. “Why?” I asked. She told me it was because she saw pictures of us on Facebook when we were on a nearby island at a school. God used Facebook to prepare this village for our arrival. As we shared the gospel with the students and teachers, they were very attentive to the message.All one-hundred twenty students and teachers indicated that they believed in Jesus alone for His gift of salvation at the end of the gospel presentation. 

Afterward we had a concert, with individual students praising our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. I got goose bumps listening to these newly saved children fill the jungle with songs of praise to their Savior! As these children sang, I thought to myself, “This is why we are in the Philippines. If we don’t go to these unreached villagers, who will go?” Had we sought to please people we would not have gone to that village. But because our aim was to seek the approval of our Father in heaven, we went to the village that God had already prepared to hear and believe the gospel.

How many times do we forfeit God’s blessings because we are trying to please someone else besides the Lord? How many people have not heard the good news of Jesus Christ because Christians listened to their peers instead of listening to the Lord? Yes, there is wisdom in listening to counselors, but if that counsel does not reflect God’s leading, we are in big trouble!

To be balanced, I do want to acknowledge that we could have have been killed going to that village, but God in His grace, permitted us to see a wonderful harvest. Even when we seek God’s approval, He does not guarantee there will be no suffering or death.

For example, in anticipation of the world’s hatred, Jesus warned His disciples that they would experience the same hostility from the world that He had experienced. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.” (John 15:18). The phrase, “If the world hates you…” is a first class condition in the Greek language and means that the world does actually hate the disciples. Jesus did not promise a painless, effortless experience as a disciple. He says, “If the world hates you (and it does), then it should come as no surprise to you because it hated Me first.” From His birth when king Herod sought to kill Him, to His death on the cross, Jesus experienced opposition from the world. Therefore, a person cannot be intimately related to Christ without being hated by His enemies. The main issue here is not whether we will experience rejection and persecution as Christ followers, but how will we respond to it?

The world does not hate disciples of Christ because they are better; it hates disciples because they are servants of Christ whom the world has rejected. The world loves its own as long as you commend and follow its ways (John 15:19a), but when a believer decides to turn their back on the world to follow Jesus, the world will hate him or her.

In summary, will we seek God’s approval when the fury of the world is directed at us or will we seek the world’s approval and miss out on the many blessings God wants to bestow upon His disciples both now and in eternity? If you are like me, you may be quick to say you want God’s approval. But for us to live that way consistently, we must daily surrender everything to Him. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24). Submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ daily no matter what the cost, will reap eternal rewards.

Prayer: Precious Lord and Savior, I am tested every day regarding my loyalties. It is so easy for me to want the approval of people instead of Yours. But even then, it is impossible to please everyone. You know this much better than I do. Please forgive me for being so fickle. I want to live for the audience of One. I long to hear You say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” For that to happen, I need Your grace  –  lots of grace to change me from the inside out. So often I want to be in control because I think that is when I will feel safe. But the truth is I am most safe when I seek Your approval and yield to Your control. Thank You my Lord and my God. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Have you been rejected by religious groups?

“Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, ‘Do you believe in the Son of God?’” John 9:35

The Jewish leaders “cast” out the former blind man from the synagogue because he demonstrated with his own testimony (9:25) and logic (9:30-33) that Jesus was from God. This is probably the best thing that could have happened to the man because now he would not have to listen to the works-salvation message of the Jewish religious leaders. He was now more prepared for his next encounter with Jesus. God can use the rejection of others to make non-Christians more open to hearing the gospel. 

Unfortunately, more and more churches are preaching a “faith plus” salvation message instead of a “faith alone” salvation message today which makes it more difficult for church goers to get saved. They teach that you are saved by what you do, not by what Jesus has already done (John 19:30). But all is not lost. Jesus seeks those who are disenchanted with churches today. When Christ heard that the Jewish leaders “cast” the former blind man out of the synagogue, He sought him out and asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of God” (9:35)? This is the purpose for John’s Gospel (cf. John 20:31). John recorded these miracles of Jesus, so people could believe in Him as the Christ, the Son of God. If the man believed that Jesus was the Son of God, the God-Man, he would have life in His name. This personal response is necessary for receiving the gift of eternal life (cf. John 3:15-16, 36; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 11:25-27). 

Many people today believe that Jesus exists and died for them on the Cross, but they are not trusting in Him alone for His free gift. The former blind man is willing and ready to believe, but he is ignorant. He wants the Son of God to be identified so he may believe in Him (9:36). After Jesus identifies Himself as God’s Son (9:37), the former blind man immediately responds in faith: “Lord, I believe”(9:38a)! Jesus used the physical healing of this blind man to prepare him for his spiritual healing. Out of gratitude for his physical healing, the man believed in Christ as the Messiah-God, which meant he now had eternal life (John 20:31). This is the climax for the man in a process that has been taking place throughout the whole chapter.

After believing in Jesus, the former blind man “worshiped Him”(9:38b). He honored Jesus as God (cf. 5:23). The former blind man could no longer worship God in the synagogue, but now he could worship Him to His face. And Jesus will never “cast” this man “out” of His family (John 1:12; 6:37). 

Have you been rejected by religious groups because you did not live up to their requirements for membership? Please understand that Jesus is not offering you religion. He is not giving you a long list of rules to follow to become a Christian. Jesus is freely offering you a personal relationship that can never be lost. All He asks is that you come to Him in faith, just as you are (Matthew 11:28). You don’t have to try to clean up your life. You do not have to give God your life to be saved. Salvation is not giving God your life, it is receiving His eternal life by faith alone (John 3:16). So simply believe in Jesus and He will give you everlasting life which can never be lost (John 3:16; 10:28-29). He will place you in God’s family forever and never reject you (John 1:12; 6:37). And you can worship or express your love for Him anytime and anywhere (cf. John 4:21-24).