Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Rejection and Restoration

It's terrible business - the stuff of rejection! It hurts! It even feels like death! It is certainly no fun!

Can there possibly be any good in rejection? Can God use rejection to work His Gospel of restoration deeply into a battered heart?

Just this morning a long-time friend sent a second email in as many days with his own story of rejection. In his case he has been rejected by others who call themselves a church. He wrote, "... my heart is broken. God will heal it. For now I am not too interested in being around God's people." His honesty is sad but understandable! Some of the cruelest wounds of all are from those who should love us best!

Rejection is a common experience in life. It comes to all of us in time. Try as we may to avoid those times and places where we might encounter rejection of any of its forms, sooner or later rejection finds us all. It is hard to keep pressing on through rejection. There is sometimes wisdom in just standing still or even backing up.

Our great God of restoration will show us His strategy for each situation we encounter. His way, however, is NEVER the path of fear, failure, uncertainty or insecurity or even just being too tired to fight one more battle. He promises faith for our fears, His direction in our failures, His abiding presence ("I am with you always!" Matt. 28:20) in our uncertainty and insecurity and especially His strength in our weakness.

God gives us many examples of real people on the pages of Scripture who faced rejection in many of its forms and even endured severe adversity in that rejection:
  • Joseph trapped in an Egyptian prison simply because he refused to act against his principles and God's rules for life
  • Moses leading God's people in the desert in spite of their grumbling both against God and their leader Moses
  • Jeremiah and many other of God's prophets who preached to people who shut their eyes and their ears to God's truth
  • Hosea who lived a life of rejection when his wife left his home and children to be a prostitute - God called Hosea be a living parable of God's love in the world of his day.
  • And the best example of all - the Son of God who "put on our skin and walked in our neighborhood" (John 1:14, The Message). Jesus faced rejection over and over again until it finally put Him on a cross beside a pathway outside Jerusalem!
I don't imagine Jesus enjoyed the rejection. In fact the Bible describes Him as setting His face like flint (hard stone) to go to Jerusalem where He knew He faced certain death on the cross. He set His face like flint because He had to intentionally face and walk into that rejection of all rejections He knew was coming! The crucifixion was an attempt to kill God! Jesus knew what was facing Him!
God has important plans for you and me today. He sends us on a special mission to the part of His world where He has put us. Our mission is to model restoration for the watching world. It's the radical, upside-down aspect of the Gospel that speaks of grace and love as nothing else can!

When the world sees believers willing to endure rejection and remain faithful and obedient regardless, they know they are seeing something out of this world! It is a glimpse of heaven as God reaches down and touches rejection with restoration - with love, mercy and grace!

Sometimes God picks particular ones of His servants to experience rejection. God is not so much concerned with the form of rejection as He is with how we respond! It's an opportunity to turn our upside-down world rightside-up for Jesus! It's also a way to experience God's restoring love in your heart and mine!

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