There are a lot of polarizing people in this world. Jesus was very much a dividing force when he walked the earth. Some people were drawn to him like a magnet to metal, while others were thoroughly repulsed. I can only assume that Jesus was a charismatic person. What else can you assume about someone who can walk up to total strangers in the middle of their work day, tell them to follow you, and actually have them do it (Matthew 4:18-20)? There was something about Jesus that made some curious, others just want to be around him, and still others willing to listen to what he had to say. We shouldn’t be surprised, after all, he is God and who wouldn’t be attracted to the physical presence of God, even if some rejected him after they saw him and hear what he had to say?
(Image courtesy of christart.com)
Today Jesus is no
different. There appears to be little difference in effect for his followers.
Some Christians draw others to them like bees to honey. Some Christians
push people away with the very same personalities, styles, and modes
that draw others to them. I witness this time and time again in ministry. Pastors either have a magnetic effect and draw people to them, or they repulse people. Rarely are people ambivalent about their pastor, or someone else’s for that matter. The very thing that someone loves about you can be the thing that makes another dislike you. Preach a sermon and half of the people will love it and the other half will not. OK, maybe not a fifty fifty ratio, but you’re never going to make everyone happy. Jesus knew this and accepted that not everyone would follow him. In the last few decades, Christianity appears to have rejected that stream of thought. We are not going to make everyone happy. In fact, some of the fundamentals that people love about the Church are what others hate about it. Yet we have tried to make everyone happy, and in doing so, we seem to have upset, angered, or repulsed everyone in some shape or form. You are never going to make everyone happy at the same time. Not even Jesus managed to do that.
What does that have to do with the average, individual Christian? Maybe nothing, but then again, maybe we need to realize that we are going to have the Jesus effect on others. If I am going to be a Christian, wear the title, and live the life, then I know that some people are going to dislike me, berate me, talk about me behind my back, try to find fault with what I do and say. Some will basically do all the things that people did to Jesus. I’m a walking target for those who reject religion, God, and especially Christianity. That’s the downside. The upside is that, through the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, someone will appreciate who I am, what I say, and what I do in the name of Jesus Christ. Perhaps someone will be affected by me and my Christian way. Just maybe they’ll find they too belong in the Christian family. They will hear God calling them to a new way of being. Even if you repulse a thousand people and only attract one in the name of Jesus Christ, you can call that a success. Jesus spoke to thousands of people, and only twelve were willing to bear his name as Apostles.