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Posts Tagged ‘rejection’

well

So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. ~John 4:3-4

The context of this “leaving” is notable.  Jesus left Judea for a reason.  He left because the religious leaders of his day caught wind that he was gaining a following.  His disciples were baptizing lots of people – even more than John the Baptist.

Why would that make Jesus leave?  If Jesus was bringing people to God, why would religious men be upset?  Why would what some religious pretenders thought make him stop and leave?  Why was that a problem?

It was a problem because those religious leaders were extremely jealous.  Jesus knew they wanted the power and control of God’s house and God’s people that belonged solely to him.  Because they so coveted and idolized power and control so severely, they wrongfully assumed that that was what Jesus and his followers must want, too.  They thought that he came to take their beloved places of authority.  Because their identity was in their works and their positions rather than in a right relationship with God, they hated Jesus and his right-doing followers.

Ironically, Jesus had every right to direct the religious dealings of the Jews.  He was their Savior!  He had every right to be the authority among all of them and all the Gentiles as well.  He is the King of Kings!!!  Wonder what would happen if Jesus showed up today to put his church in order?  Wonder what religious men would do?  Wonder what would happen if he tried to do it through the testimony of an adulteress woman?

Somehow, people, especially particularly religious ones, do not like when Jesus is really in charge of the church.  When Jesus is calling the shots, men are not and their almighty positions of leadership are threatened.

Jesus does not fight with them over their pride and pretense.  Instead, he reveals it.  He reveals it by leaving.  He chooses to go through Samaria – a place and a people that the Jews overtly hated.  Jesus proves their hypocrisy without even saying a word to them.  He does it merely by purposefully preaching to a person they despised – a Samaritan woman.

Sometimes religious leaders cannot hear plain and simple truth no matter how clear and obvious it really is.  They cannot hear because they refuse to.  The wisdom of Christ recognizes that and stops talking.  The wisdom of Christ simply shows them up by doing exactly the things they should be doing but refuse out of their pride and hypocrisy.

Jesus went directly through Samaria on a route the Jews went far out of their way to avoid.  The text says he “had to.”  He had to because he had to show the religious men their fault.  He had to because he had to show the Samaritans salvation.  He cared equally about both the religious men in their error and the irreligious woman in hers.  He proved both in one act.

To prove the level of hatred for the woman with whom Jesus chose to speak, the text says this:

 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” ~John 4:27

No one asked these questions.  Despite their surprise, no one wanted to know?  There is a reason for that.  They likely did not want to be asked to do the same.  Even Jesus’ own disciples were tainted by the social norms of their day.  They knew it was social homicide to speak with Samaritans or honor them as brothers and, gasp, sisters.  They were not willing to risk their own reputation to honor people God had chosen.  They were afraid, prideful, and unyielding to those whom God had deemed clean.

Jesus is not like erring, religious men.  He does not avoid difficult and uncomfortable situations.  In fact, he makes it a point to meet the very people who instigate them.  He does it in order to show prideful men the hatred they have in their hearts for others and to show humble outcasts the love he has in his heart for even them.  He does both at the very same time.

Even Jesus’ disciples feared following his lead and example in talking to this outcast woman.  Not only  was she part of a social group they avoided, she was a she and not a he.  The contempt they had for her was doubly great.  Jesus shone a light on the contempt they had for her in order to show them the wickedness in their own hearts.

That is why Jesus “had to” go through Samaria when everyone knew you were supposed to take the long way around and avoid them – avoid her- at all costs!  He had to expose the attitudes that had a continual internal dialogue that repeated words like this: “What if someone sees?  What will people think?  She is a dog!  We cannot be friends.  We are enemies.  I’m so good and she’s so bad and what if someone thinks I like her?   What if someone thinks I like her more than I should?  What if I do like her more than I should?  How will I cover up my sin?  How will I regain my good reputation?  She will ruin me!  She is out to get me!  She is bad!  I am good!  Stay away, wicked wench!  You are not worthy of my words or my water!  God does not call people like you to serve him!  Let me just keep pretending you don’t exist so I can feel good about my own righteousness, good reputation, and religious position!”

The Jews were wrong about Jesus.  Their power-hungry hearts were desperately jealous.  They were wrong about the Samaritans.  They were wrong about women. The Jews were no different than any other human group on earth.  They just thought they were because they were used to getting special treatment; preference; respect; seats of honor.  They were, after all, the children of a long line of self-righteous, spoiled brats.  They were just as desperately needy and sinful as any Samaritan in Samaria.  Therefore,  Jesus pulls the curtain back on their dark thoughts and actions not by telling them, but by doing the very things they were not willing to do.  He shows them their sin by doing the right they refused to do.

 And the woman preached the gospel by her testimony.  The Samaritans were saved despite all the religious efforts to avoid the likes of these unworthy people whom they esteemed themselves so much better than.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers. ~John 4:39-41

To that end I ask, are things really any different today?  If you think things have changed, try being a former adulteress with something to offer in a patriarchal church in 2017. Nevertheless, despite the odds, Jesus used an adulteress to save a town full of outcast rejects.  If anything gives me hope at all, it is that.

Be careful who you purposefully avoid.  Be careful who you hold contempt for in your heart.  Jesus might call you out on your hypocrisy and pride by using that very person to start a revival among those you consider most unworthy; those you personally despise.  What will you do when God’s church is full of people you have spent your whole life avoiding and despising?  You have two choices:

1.Crucify him

2.Love them

Kyrie elesion

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rejection

The end is nigh for Moses’ dreadful work.  Daily dealing with a desperately obstinate man is no easy work.  Being the bearer of God’s just judgments is not jovial.  Soon, God promises independence from both.  One. More. Plague.

The Lord said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.” ~Exodus 11:1-2

Do not give up, Moses.  Do not worry, kids.  Daddy’s coming, and when he shows up this time, you shall be free.  Be just a little longer patient, though, because I have something special for you in this.  You are not just leaving empty-handed.  You are going to go from here with the greatest goods of your enemies.  “Note, one way or other, God will give redress to the injured, who in humble silence commit their cause to him; and he will see to it that none be losers at last by their patient suffering any more than by their services.” ~Matthew Henry

After you collect their gold and silver, every firstborn in the land will die.  Every firstborn Egyptian baby will die – both man and cattle.  Yet, not even so much as a dog shall growl at any who belong to Israel.  Make no mistake, God will snuff out everything that belongs to rebellion and pride.  He will give the honor and glory and wealth to his own people.  Yes, God fights jealously for his precious own.

After Moses pronounced this last and fearful judgment, he went out from Pharaoh’s presence in hot anger. Deaf to his warnings, blind to his state, Pharaoh is still without concern.

Righteous anger is that which burns because men slight God and snub his ways.  Righteous men are rightly angry at the lack of conviction apparent in unrighteous men.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.”

10 Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land. ~Exodus 11:9-10

All these wonders.  So many signs.  Chance after chance after chance to put away his self-serving agenda and save himself and his people.  But Pharaoh kept right on doing as he had always done.  These are the desperate effects of a dark and hardened heart.  Pharaoh stayed stuck in his ways even at the most severe and sure warnings of his life.

Those who reject the sure and certain miracles of God wait for their own demise.  When one rejects and mistreats God’s people, he may be gracious enough to send a prophet.  When he rejects God’s prophet, he may be gracious enough to send a sign.  When he rejects the sign, God may, in great mercy give another, and, in Pharaoh’s case, another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another, and another.  But when his people, the prophets, and his many merciful signs and wonders are disregarded as degenerate and disgusting, believe it, final judgment is nigh.

Plead God’s mercy in your anger, man of God.  The unrepentant will soon surely need it.

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moses

Moses.  Now there’s a man I can sympathize with.

By God’s providence and his mother’s desperation, he was raised by an enemy who sought to kill him at birth.

Moses was angry at the injustice done towards his native people even though he did not suffer it himself.  He left a life of comfort, power, and luxury to be a desert dweller out of anger and fear and remained there until God called him back to the enemy’s camp, er, uh, his adoptive family, forty years later.

Moses was a deliverer, a leader, and, well, a hot-head.  None the less, when I think of Moses the thing I always consider most is the great difficulty he faced throughout life as belonging to both Egypt and Israel, yet being so often rejected by both.    How hard it must have been for Moses to leave the only family he ever knew out of love for the family he did not.  How difficult it must have been for him to confront a family of would-be friends repeatedly on behalf of a family who often made him the enemy.

What can a man do when his own people do not trust him and he has obediently forsaken those whom God calls him not to trust?  Little wonder why Moses was an angry man.

He was rejected by everyone – one group because he did right and the other because he would not do wrong.  On a human level, Moses couldn’t win.

I feel you, brother.  Sometimes trusting God and doing his will makes you the most unpopular person in the world.  Doubtless Jesus can relate to this dilemma.

The good news is, Jesus won.  Moses won.  Despite the opposition, both accomplished God’s sovereign will.

 Moses successfully led Israel out of Egypt and to the brink of the promised land.  This journey is known as the Exodus.  I will be spending the better part of the next year – if not longer – with Moses.  I hope you’ll join me as I trace my way through the stubbornness of we people of God and out of the enemy’s enslavement by nothing less than God’s great mercy coupled with his provision of a strong, obedient leader.

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Standing on the precipice of summer reminds me why there’s no shame in buying a few band-aids here and there.  Truth be told, I’m not much of a band-aid believer.  When it comes to bumps and bruises, I’m more of a pretend I didn’t see, wait a few minutes, and hope my babies get over it on their own.  I visit doctors as rarely as humanly possible and I will err on the side of sorry nine out of every ten times other mommies err on the side of safe.  I have three little girls 9, 6, and 5, and we’ve been the ER exactly once since they’ve existed.  

Perhaps it’s because there’s not a nurturing bone in my body.  Or maybe my kids are just careful.  But I like to think it’s because I refuse to get worked up over the small stuff.  My goal is to raise strong, independent, drama-free children.  I usually don’t carry band-aids commando style on my person – or even in my purse.  As strange as it may seem to, well, every other mom other there, I scarcely bat an eye when my babies get a little banged up.  

Right now, if you’re contemplating adoption and how you might go about obtaining custody of these three poor little orphans, you can stop reading now.  You already get what I’m about to say.  For those of you who think like me, though, please read on.  

The sound of screaming outside caught me in mid-sweep inside the kitchen.  My Maylee, 5, screams more than a Steeler fan at the Superbowl.  Just ask the neighbors.  But this was not that.  I could hear her pain from inside the house.  I ran out to check on her and found her trying to get up from the concrete she’d just tripped on.  She had fallen and caught the corner of a stone on her knee.  Shake-it-off-and-drive-on-soldier mommy uncharacteristically picked up up and carried her inside.  I laid her on my bed and held her while she cried.

The very next day, just after I left for work, Maylee decided she would find the biggest knife in the kitchen and cut a whole watermelon by herself.  By the time her oldest sister got a hold of me and I made my way back, I found her crying and bleeding once again – only this time she was sure of certain impending death.  

“I don’t want to die!  I’m sorry mommy!  I’m not ready to go to heaven!” she repeated over and over.

I held her in my arms and tried not to chuckle.  She was calm in just a very few minutes.  No stitches needed.  A week later she’s all healed up.

After considering these two painful little episodes, I considered myself and my own pain for a moment.  Just like with my kids, I generally never even acknowledge pain unless it’s past a certain level of intensity.  I tend to think I have a pretty high pain threshold.  But, sometimes, I must cry for help.  Now, this is where it gets complicated…

In those times, a little girl needs a…comforter.  She doesn’t need a lecture on why she’s too young and inexperienced to cut a watermelon.  She has assuredly already figured out how foolish she was.  She’s already very sorry.  She does not need a few more rules designed to keep her from skipping rocks in flip flops.  Skipping rocks is what little girls were made to do.  She found out the hard way what kind of shoes she needs to wear.  She knows better than anyone else her age why she wants to be careful next time.  

She does not need a lecture.  She does not need more rules.  She does not need more advice.  She is not fit for being shamed or punished.  Hurting people need comfort.  Comfort.  

Church, please listen to me.  Hurting people need comfort.  Whether pain is extrinsic or self-inflicted, we have to start with comfort.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with lectures.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with rules.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with punishment.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with shame.  We cannot help a hurting world when we begin with unsolicited advice.  Hurting people need comfort.  

My hero – my husband – was worshiping with the kids yesterday and he put a silly song on for them to sing.  It’s called, “What if Cartoons Got Saved” by Chris Rice. It’s a cute kids song and it talks about all their favorite characters singing praise to God in their respective cartoon songs.  Scooby Doo, the Smurfs, Elmer Fudd, and the Flinstones just to name a few made the cut.  The singer got to Beavis and Butthead and stopped.  Their picture was X’ed out and he said, “Nah.”  

As silly as that song is, my heart sank when I saw that part.  Then, I got mad.  Stop excluding screw-ups, church!  News flash…you’re one of ’em!  Stop using band-aids on the babies you’re overprotecting and learn how to wrap your arms around the “really bad” wrongdoers.  Teach your children to do the same.  Your Savior is our only hope.   Hurting people need comfort.  Then, after the pain subsides, perhaps we could trust you enough to take your good advice.  

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. ~John 3:17

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“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, not a footprint to be seen.  A kingdom of isolation, and it looks like I’m the Queen.  The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside.  Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried.” ~Idina Menzel

This is the song my littlest girl sings every day of her life.  With the video release of “Frozen” set for tomorrow, I couldn’t let the day pass without saying something about what it means to us girls.

My littlest girl.  Maylee Ruth.  She won’t open gifts if anyone is watching.  She clings to her mama when she enters new places.  She doesn’t answer questions when more than one person is listening.  She is going to be five in two short weeks.  My youngest daughter is inexplicable shy.  Her feelings are more fragile than anyone else in the family.  All you have to do is look at her wrong and she runs away, hides her face, and begins to cry.

She loves to sing, though.  She’s got a great big, bossy mouth at times, too.   If no one is watching she belts it out like nobody’s business, complete with a heaping dose of charisma and congeniality.

I used to sing, too.  That is, until someone, somewhere who was in a position of power told me I could not.  I stopped singing.  I felt small.  I believed him.  I felt sad.  I was small.  I was sad.

What does a little girl do when she cannot sing her song?  What if she’s got something serious to say?

Perhaps she speaks instead.

It seems somewhat strenuous to speak when one is not being spoken to, though.  When all the important people are talking and all the seats are taken, sad, small voices don’t get much of a listen.  So, in her shyness, she sheepishly stops speaking.  She retreats the moment she realizes all that she says is sterile.

What does a little girl do when she is unheard, though?  What if she has something she simply must say?

Perhaps she will write instead.

Yes.  She will write.  She will write and write and write.  Every single day she will write what most grips her heart and she will show it to them.  She will share every thought; every joy; every pain; every discovery.  She will share her very heart with ink and parchment.  She will be an open book for all who care to read.  Her fragile, timid heart will be read in the lines of her expositions.  The risk of rejection after much rejection is even greater now.  But…well…I suppose she will share it anyway because, because, because she has so very much to say.

She found the pearl some years ago.  She found what every heart seems to search unknowingly for.  She must show them.  She must describe him.  She must seize their attention somehow.  She must!  So, she writes.

She hears the powerful people shout repeatedly from the table.  Over and over and over again soberly at her they say, “STOP!”  They want her to be silent.  She stopped singing.  She stopped speaking.  “Now, just stop scribbling, small trifle.  There is no seat here for your songs, your statements, your stories, or your study.  Stay silent and small where no one can see him in you.”

She thought.  She thought and thought and thought about this final instruction.  She felt fragile.  She cried.  She stayed quiet for some time.  She even stopped searching for him.  She started to give up.  He was, after all, everything to her.  He was all that was real.  He was all she ever had.  She could not bear not sharing him.  He was her heart.  Without him, she turned cold.  She no longer cared.  Nothing was real.  Nothing meant anything without him.

Jesus.  She wrote about Jesus.  She loved him all her life…since she was a small, shy, fragile, poor, little girl.  Moreover, he loved her.  She simply had to say it.

What does a little girl do when she stops writing about her first love, though?

Perhaps she hides her face and begins to cry.  She is just a little girl with feelings more fragile than anyone else in the family, after all.  Maybe, just maybe, she will let it go for good this time, though.  Funny thing about little girls, though…they often let go when they really should be holding on and hold on when they really should be letting go.  No matter.  Perhaps its far too late for such realizations.  Perhaps she will seek what is real and true apart from those whom she always thought could help her do so.  The cold doesn’t bother her anyway.

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Paul had written to the Galatians concerning the law.  He sought to debunk the falseness of legalism as well as harsh, erring teachers whose elitism was excluding certain believers from the body of Christ.  He does so by placing faith up on display and it’s object (Christ) over all legal obligations.  He reasons that works cannot save and that there is no superiority between brothers in Christ – all are one in him.  In other words, there are no “better” Christians or “lesser” Christians as these elitists and arrogant teachers were proposing.  Every believer is on level ground at the cross (Galatians 3:26-29) and therefore no one has a right to exclude another based upon legal obligations.

 I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. ~Galatians 4:1-7

In chapter 4, Paul goes on to compare the Old Testament believers as underage children of a king.  He reasons that children and slaves do not differ until the child becomes mature, and that in Christ believers are now mature, adopted sons.  The indisputable proof of our sonship and inclusion is found not in external obligations or internal bloodlines, but by the seal of the Holy Spirit which gives us the right to cry out to God as our very own Father.

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. ~John 1:11

Christ’s own people did not receive him.  Neither did they receive his followers.  They chose instead to continue in slavery and attempt to bind God’s true children to that same life-sucking slavery.  

Paul will not stand for this kind of gospel truncation because it is a damnable heresy.  He chooses instead, like Christ, to identify with those who were despised and rejected and assure them that they indeed have been given the right to become the very children of God.

The presence of the Holy Spirit in us bears witness to us by prompting our hearts to cry out to our heavenly daddy whenever the law or its tyrannical masters seek to condemn or exclude us on any legal basis. Christianity is not a matter of legality, but of faith.  Legalists obey the law in the sight of men because it makes them feel superior to everyone else.  Faithful children obey the Lawmaker when no one even sees or knows because he is our Daddy.   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9RqVRBtjM4

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I’m not sure when it started.  Maybe junior high.  Maybe sooner.  I suppose it was gradual.  I remember being very content…alone.  I had no problem being alone.  I loved to read, write silly stories, and draw maps of the neighborhood to ride my bike around.  I was a loner in every sense of the word and I wasn’t unhappy about it.  I really didn’t know any different anyway.

Somehow, people crept into my life; my space.  At first it was flattering and fun…until…we disagreed; we hurt each other; we recognized our differences; we forgot our manners.  And it was no longer fun to be friends.  I wanted to be alone again – safe and silent with nothing more than my straight A’s, my library books, and my yellow stirrup pants with blue patterned shirt.

I soon learned that aloneness was never going to be a reality again.  I had to find a way to protect myself from the bullies, though, because, after all, I was quite an easy target and everyone, everyone knew it.  

So that’s when it started, I guess.  That’s when I learned how to outwardly smile and inwardly cry.  That’s when I learned how to curl my hair and cover my heart.  That’s when I learned how to match my clothes and malign my mirror.  I slowly stopped seeing myself.  The more I started caring what other people saw, the more I stopped caring what other people saw.  I was safe because I was pretty.  I was strong because I was smart.  And no one was going to tell me I wasn’t because pretty + smart = tough.

I’ve learned a few lessons since then and I’m trying not so successfully to overcome the self-absorbed stereotype pretty primped Barbie has branded me with, but it’s just not that easy.  Because there’s nothing wrong with being pretty.  There’s nothing wrong with being alone or well-read or purposefully unmatching. There’s nothing wrong with analyzing the neighborhoods God has called me to live in.  It really is ok to be me – black and white with a tight schedule, a matching dress, and a pair of running shoes to change right after.

What is not ok is my lack of concern for how others perceive my personality.  What’s rancid is my concern for how others perceive my personality.   What’s ugly is my lack of empathy for those I alienate by my practically perfect persona.  It’s pride, it’s self-protective, and, as Paul would say, it’s purifying refuge.

I just want to be like Anna in Disney’s Frozen.  I want to believe the best when things look the worst.  I want to be other-protective instead of self-protective.  I want to be purposeful, polite, positive, and practical.  I’m not there yet.  Some days I feel like a paper doll even more than a Barbie doll.  I don’t know which is worse.  But God can change that, too.

That said, I want also to remind myself that both John the loner and Jesus the genial were wholly rejected by fakes and it had far more to do with who the posers really were than with John and Jesus’ personalities.  

“Because they were resolved not to believe Christ and John, and to own them, as they ought to have done, for the best of men, they set themselves to abuse them, and to represent them as the worst.” ~Matthew Henry

Pray for me, friends.  Help me see that it matters how others view me.  Help me see that it does not matter how others view me.  Pray that I might learn how to reconcile the two in Christ. Imago dei.

For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look at him! A glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds.” ~Matthew 11:18-19

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmTGLdSW5Sw

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