Father, so often I am distracted. Despair, affluence, false pretense can consume me. I look to You for a word of hope.
Read LUKE 4:22-30
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The truth is that if we would be acceptable to God at all times, we can take it for granted that we will be unacceptable to others some of the time” (John N. Gladstone).
You’d think that as Jesus was beginning his public ministry he would go out of his way to keep on his side the people most likely to support him, namely those from his home town. But he didn’t. Although they are impressed by the manner and content of his synagogue speech, his popularity was very short-lived. It was almost as if he went out of his way to shake them up with his focus on the Gentiles, to startle them out of their complacent view of the privileges accompanying their status as God’s people. His message shocked them deeply because of their desperation for God to liberate Israel from Roman occupation. Several Jewish texts of the time expressed longing that God would annihilate these pagans. When Jesus reminded them that the main beneficiaries when the prophets were active were Gentiles, not Jews, it did not go down well (1 Kings 17:7-24; 2 Kings 5:1-14). He certainly wasn’t interested in getting the vote of the people of Nazareth!
Nonetheless, winning popularity can have a powerful pull. Viewing figures for programs like American Idol indicate that a significant proportion of the public identify with the contestants’ hunger for recognition. Given the speed with which many then fade into obscurity, however, it’s obvious that popularity can be a fickle friend. Think, too, about the pressure on politicians to please people: if they don’t, they’re unlikely to be re-elected. Being liked by others can make us, too, feel good; it’s all too easy to speak and act on the basis of how it will affect people’s opinion of us. Jesus loved people but he wasn’t a “people pleaser.” Confident of his Father’s love, Jesus was far more concerned with the bigger picture of what God was doing in the world, and his part in it, than being popular.
Pray for politicians to maintain integrity and make good, wise decisions not merely based on winning popularity.
Gracious Lord, I want to make it my ambition, wherever I am and whatever I am doing, to please You above all.
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