Being Unpopular—in the Name of Jesus

Almighty God, you have given your only Son to be for us a sacrifice for sin, and also an example of godly life: Give us grace to receive thankfully the fruits of his redeeming work, and to follow daily in the blessed steps of his most holy life; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. (Collect for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost)

The gospel appointed for August 18 (Luke 12:49–56) reminds us and other readers that in order to follow Jesus, one must understand that she or he will be (or be willing to become) unpopular at one time or another. To follow daily in the blessed steps of Jesus’s most holy life, unpopularity is inevitable. This holds true not only among coworkers, schoolmates, opponents, peers, and those who may not know us well, but also among family and other loved ones. Because we are called to partner with our Lord in his radical commitment to unconditional love, justice, reconciliation, and peace for all, there will be divisions. (“Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”)

Every day and in every opportunity, we are called to be like Christ to others. And when we do this, we undoubtedly will become unpopular and possibly even suffer. It strikes me that in our journey to becoming bold followers of Jesus, we should wrestle daily with the meaning of this and give it a try. Surely, life will become even more exciting and richer. In the name of Jesus, let’s become unpopular together and reflect along the way.

–The Reverend Ollie V. Rencher, Rector