John 12:47-50 (MSG) “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him. I didn’t come to reject the world; I came to save the world. But you need to know that whoever puts me off, refusing to take in what I’m saying, is willfully choosing rejection. The Word, the Word-made-flesh that I have spoken and that I am, that Word and no other is the last word. I’m not making any of this up on my own. The Father who sent me gave me orders, told me what to say and how to say it. And I know exactly what his command produces: real and eternal life. That’s all I have to say. What the Father told me, I tell you.”
What a different world would we live in if people did not fear rejection? Rejection is the feeling of being refused. Rejection can be delivered from either party. What in the world is Christ saying in this passage? I don’t understand. “If anyone hears what I am saying and doesn’t take it seriously, I don’t reject him.” To the organized religion called church that is a preposterous notion. To hear the Word and not do it most certainly must bear a consequence. Not in the face of grace, it can’t. To allow condemnation of any kind is to reject the idea that His Grace is enough to overcome every weakness. God will never reject the repentant heart that makes its way through the Blood of Jesus Christ. Rejection is not a Kingdom principle but an earthly choice made by mankind to choose something else.
Jesus came to save us. He came to heal us, restore us and revive us again as sons and daughters of God. His Purpose was not to judge the world yet it is the heavy mantle of many to not only judge each other but themselves. There is a difference between judgment and accountability. One is terminal the other can be life giving. Throughout my lifetime, the Lord has placed many in my life who hold me accountable to the Word of God. I have also faced many judges and harsh critics. The purpose behind the pain is the determining factor. Was the point of the lesson to tear down or build up? Jesus came to build a Kingdom but in doing so He had to tear some things down and rebuild them.
John 2:18-22 (MSG) But the Jews were upset. They asked, “What credentials can you present to justify this?” Jesus answered, “Tear down this Temple and in three days I’ll put it back together.” They were indignant: “It took forty-six years to build this Temple, and you’re going to rebuild it in three days?” But Jesus was talking about his body as the Temple. Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.
The Jews were more than upset – they became downright irate when Jesus said that He could rebuild the Temple it took 46 years to build in three days. Thank you Jesus! That’s exactly what He did. On the Cross, the Jews recounted his words completely ignorant that He was doing just that. He was tearing down religion to make way for a relationship. A love covenant with mankind that could never be destroyed or threatened again. No more condemnation but overflowing grace that could strip down every stronghold and overcome every obstacle between the Father and His Beloved Children. Now God’s Love pursues us. There is no longer rejection but open relationship if we allow it.
So if there is no condemnation in Jesus Christ and no judgment in Him, what about sin? Accountability to the Word of God and reconciliation to Jesus Christ are fulfilled in repentance. Turning from our way to pursue Him. Religion is a change of habit. Repentance is a change of heart. One leads to a good life and a successful church. The other leads to eternal life in the Father’s House. I wonder today if the rejection felt by many is not rejection but a call of repentance. A gentle urging by the Son to come back to the Father and experience His Love. If we experience punishment – it is not of the Father. To experience permission comes when we give up our way to encounter the fullness of the Word and freedom it delivers.
Matthew 7:1-5 (MSG) “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.
After eating with a friend, have they ever told you that you have something in your teeth? Or maybe just gestured it as not to gain attention? How do you feel in that moment? A little embarrassed. Quickly trying to dislodge the speck, leaf or pepper from your pearly whites? You may ask them, “Did I get it?” Did you get mad at them for pointing it out? Of course not! You didn’t want to go around for the rest of the day smiling and conversing with your meal on full display. How much more embarrassing would that have been?
God has placed people in each other’s lives in the Body of Christ to act as iron sharpening iron. We have many acquaintances in life but then there is that one friend the Lord sends to be our accountability partner. If you do not know who that is, then look for them. The point of our partnerships in life is beneficial. The enemy works night and day to destroy godly relationships especially the sharp and pointed ones that enable us to discover God’s Purpose and encourage us to follow His Plan. Relationship is essential for it is the currency of the Kingdom and its greatest commodity. If we do not learn to hold each other accountable, it will become judgment in our life. Those who celebrate us but never convict us to be more of who Christ created us to be will one day become our critic because the relationship is not based on the Love of God but man’s preferences. The fine line between critical people and committed people rests in their convictions. Do they serve a Savior who always accepts and loves regardless of our willingness to follow Him? Or do we have conditional love that doesn’t believe in the God of all grace? Without true repentance there is only religion. We must learn to love and learn together in the Body of Christ without judgment or condemnation but unconditional love and amazing grace.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (MSG) It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, but if there’s no one to help, tough! Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.
Am I really being rejected, condemned or judged? In most cases, yes. It is human nature. The dangerous game of comparison that feeds our pride to keep it alive. However, it is of vital importance in our spiritual life to evaluate those relationships that are rough around the edges to see if God is actually but an ironclad friend to be an accountability partner. Even the caring friend who points out the debris in our smile offers a slight sting at the revelation that our salad is on display for all to see causes a bristled reaction. It is only human nature, but in the end it produces a change. You work to right the problem and so it is with God. The commitment of our Lord at work in us with the help of the Holy Spirit is to engage in a deeper and more intimate relationship with God and then each other. When we feel rejected, we seek isolation. Remove ourselves from the haters, if you will. But maybe they aren’t haters at all but the true lovers of our soul? Food for thought and learning for life straight from the Word. Lord, show me the people who I have rejected that You have placed in my life with purpose. Examine my heart and illuminate any dark seat of judgment my pride has established. Point me in the way of everlasting life to build your Kingdom one person at a time in Jesus Name! Amen!
Proverbs 27:17 (MSG) You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.