Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
I Corinthians 5:58
While in high school, I spent many summers at a Christian outreach camp. Whether as a camper or on staff, the presence of Jesus was heavily palpable. It was fun being around so many people enthusiastically learning about God and accepting Him as their Savior.
But then summer would end and reality hit hard. It felt like every direction held critical eyes, disapproving glances, and friends just waiting for me to screw up. Do you know the feeling? It can be hard to walk in faith when friends or family members don’t share our beliefs. It doesn’t matter how trustworthy we are or how dependable God is in our lives – there will always be naysayers.
I was surprised to read that even Jesus’ brothers ridiculed him. In John 7, we find their words dripping with contempt: But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, Jesus’ brothers said to Him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” (John 7:2-4)
At first glance, it may seem Jesus’ brothers were encouraging Jesus to perform miracles publicly to attract more believers. But the first verse in chapter seven gives background to suggest otherwise: After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. Jesus’ brothers were not encouraging Jesus in a positive way, but rather masking negative ulterior motives. Despite growing up with Jesus, intimately knowing and loving Him, they did not believe He was the Messiah. (John 7:5)
In the past, I would retreat when others challenged my faith. I wasn’t confident enough in what I believed to defend it. But not Jesus. He wasn’t phased by His brothers’ comments nor did cause Him to question His mission. He replies, “My time is not yet here, for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival because my time has not yet fully come.” (John 7:6-8)
If Jesus faced naysayers in His own family, I think it’s fair to say we can expect the same. He exemplifies how to address those who intend to mock or humiliate us by speaking the truth in love. He didn’t harbor ill will toward His brothers but He also didn’t appease them. He didn’t seek their approval nor did He ask them to stay behind. He wasn’t desperate for them to accept the truth of who He was. He stood firm in His calling to obey God, allowing them to choose their own path.
Those closest to us may not believe like we do. They may not understand when we say God speaks to us. Or when God calls us to quit a job or start a church. They may think we’re crazy. Thankfully, it’s not our job to convince them to believe. We can’t allow their opinions to sway us from what God is asking us to. But we can receive comfort from the One who knows how it feels to be opposed.
Friends, be encouraged to stand firm today. Remember, there will be those who oppose us, but don’t let anything move you. We should always give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor in Him is not in vain. (I Corinthians 5:58)