Do you want to live a life faithful to your God? I’m glad! But know you are unlikely to be honoured for this by those around you. They will think you are odd at best. You will be labelled as crazy and dangerous by others.
There were times in the past when you would get some kind of respect for being a Christian. Perhaps people would think that you must be ethical and reliable. People identifying as Christian might have once been preferred for public office in some countries. Those days are behind us. Christians now live in a culture where our faith is seen as wrong and oppressive; there is no social benefit to being a believer in Jesus in 2021 in most parts of the world.
Yet, in a significant part of the Christian church, people are taught that they will get honour and money and prosperity if they are faithful to Jesus. Well-meaning believers look forward with eagerness and anticipation to the blessing God will bring them in this life. They picture a future where they achieve their earthly dreams and those around them honour and respect them.
When we look at believers in the Bible, so often they don’t live lives that are honoured and respected by those around them. Let’s take John the Baptist as an example. Sure, John was wildly popular during his ministry. Crowds came from all Judea to listen to him and to be baptised. His ministry was so popular that Herod was worried (Matt 14:5). He spoke the truth faithfully to all who would listen. He did what he was called to do. And what was John’s reward? He was killed without trial and his disembodied head was paraded around a drunken party on a platter (Matt 14:11). This was the ultimate sign of disrespect to a great prophet. It seems faithfulness didn’t lead to health and wealth for John.
It’s not only John. Think of any apostle or prophet you like. Sure, Christians honour these people, but in their time and culture they were not honoured. As the writer to the Hebrews says about believers from the past: