It is not easy to be unpopular. We may experience being unpopular when we differ from the majority. Maybe we have different manner, different opinion, different view, different principle, different skill, or different economic and social status. Sometimes, a person can become unpopular when one shows exemplary skill or personality. The “green-eyed” people in the group certainly don’t like it. Most often, though, one can become unpopular because the person is not the best in the group or one has limitations that others consider to be a liability. They could not see the strength of the person and they are being looked down to because of some weakness in knowledge or skills. Whether one is the best or the least in the group, somehow, some people could always find a reason to make a person feel unpopular. They simply dislike others.
It is the way of the world to ignore and slight people when they seem to be unimportant. See the beggars on the street, the homeless, the poor, and differently abled. Most of the times, they are slighted, taken advantaged of, discriminated, and disliked. They are unpopular for many different reasons. Even in a highly industrialized and highly educated society, there are traces of discrimination to the marginalized group in the population. This is the way of the world. God’s way is different. God’s heart is close to the poor. God sees the poor and cares for the less popular.
“Don’t exploit the poor because he is poor; and don’t crush the needy in court; for Yahweh will plead their case, and plunder the life of those who plunder them.”– Proverbs 22:22-23 (WEB)
“Pure religion and undefiled before our God and Father is this: to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”– James 1:27 (WEB)
God loves the unpopular. When Jesus was teaching and healing people, He did not go to the mansions and palaces of great people or famous political persons. He could and He would if they only called on Jesus and believed in Him for God shows no partiality. Rich or poor, God loves us all. How comforting and beautiful it is to know that Jesus loves us equally. He does not discriminate. He does not reject man by appearance or social status. He treats us all with compassion.
The story of the two blind men sitting by the road who cried out to Jesus to heal them (Matthew 20:29-34) is such a demonstration and affirmation of how God loves the poor and the needy. Three things stand out from this passage.
- The two men were blind. They are the unpopular in the society. They are the disliked and slighted persons. The two blind men showed what it means to be poor and needy. They called out to Jesus from the crowd with such urgency and faith (v.29). They knew Jesus was passing by and, probably heard of Jesus, already knew what He could do. They called Jesus as “Lord, son of David” (v.30). They had great faith in who Jesus is.
- The crowd rebuked the two blind men for calling loudly at Jesus to heal them (v.30). Their attitude towards the two blind men exactly portrays how the world treats the poor and the marginalized. The unpopular are oftentimes asked to be quiet in the society. They have no right to seek favor or blessing. They are asked to stay quietly afar or remain on the side and wait for whatever that would come their way.
- Jesus heard the shout of the two blind men. Jesus stood still to pay attention to the blind men and astonishingly asked them what they want Him to do for them (v. 32-33). God shows genuine interest to us. He listens and pays attention to our cry for help. He wants to know our needs.
God responds with compassion to the unpopular. He does not drive them away. When Jesus saw the blind men, He had compassion on them and answered their plea to give them sight. Their voice was heard. Their need was answered.
“Jesus, being moved with compassion, touched their eyes; and immediately their eyes received their sight, and they followed him.”– Matthew 20:34 (WEB)
The blind men, the unpopular, experienced God’s grace first hand. It was a personal encounter to the mercy of the Lord. After having been healed and after having experienced the grace of God, they followed Jesus. Anyone who has experienced God’s grace first hand on a personal level would end up following Jesus. It is a life-changing experience. This is exactly what Jesus is doing to everyone who meets Him in faith. He changes lives.
“The Lord Yahweh’s Spirit is on me, because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and release to those who are bound,…”– Isaiah 61:1 (WEB)
When we choose not to discrimate and not to ignore the needy, the weak, or the poor, we are acting out grace to others as we have received from the Lord Jesus Christ. When we love the unpopular, they get to taste and see the goodness of God through us. They will experience the life-changing grace of Jesus and know that God is real and that Jesus is alive. When they do, they will willingly follow after the God we serve.