Will Following Jesus Ever Be Popular?

Hundreds of articles and posts have been written about the need for Christians and Churches to change their behavior so that we can make Jesus popular. If the followers of Jesus were less judgmental, angry, political, or religious, and instead more loving, generous, accepting, and gracious, then people would flock to Jesus.

On the flip side, there are hundreds of articles about how the Church community is shrinking, fewer people are interested in faith, and most of the younger generation are calling themselves “None” when they are questioned about faith.

Jesus is less popular than ever in the United States, and believers need to do something to turn the tide.

While I agree that we as believers need to represent Jesus well, and we need to make every effort as a Church to reach the lost with the message of grace, I also understand that Jesus will never be popular in the world. Never.

Matthew chapters five through seven, records the longest teaching of Jesus we call “The Sermon on the Mount.” Near the end of this section, he says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (Matthew 7:13-14 NIV 2011). Jesus affirms that his teaching will never be popular with the majority. Many will take the wide road because it is easy, well-trod, and lots of people are heading that way. While the way of Jesus is narrow, and only a few will maneuver the difficult corridors of this path.

I don’t think that we, as his followers, can do anything to change this reality.

Those of us who follow Jesus and walk the path of faith will always be in the minority. That does not mean that we should become cynical, mean, and fatalistic on this journey. It does mean that we should get used to being rejected, feeling alone, struggling to share something we call “good news.” The way of the believer is a difficult life choice that many people will not make. Jesus asked his twelve closest followers, “You do not want to leave too, do you?” and Simon Peter speaking on behalf of the group responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:67-68 NIV 2011)

Take heart. Stand firm. Following Jesus will never be popular, but it is significant.

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