It can be painful to reach out to someone caught up in sin. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, they reject us and our plea for Christ. It’s doubly hurtful when that person is a dear family member; maybe a son or daughter who has gone astray draws even further away after our pleadings. Their rejection causes us to plead even more earnestly and they draw even further away. It becomes a cycle of encouragement and rejection.
A preacher once reminded me that not even Jesus saved all those he reached out to. Scores walked away from Jesus as soon as his divine commands become too hard or too controversial (John 6:66). One of his chosen ones, Judas, betrayed him to his enemies (John 18:1-11). The Lord himself says most will be lost (Matthew 7:13-14). It is not what people say but what they do that matters (Matthew 7:21-23) and even those who invoke the name of Jesus may not be true followers. If a man rejects Jesus we can be assured that some (many) will reject our overtures.
The frustration of reaching out only to seemingly push people away is not limited to mankind.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.” (Hosea 11:1-2 NIV).
“My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the most high, he shall not raise them up at all” (Hosea 11:7).
Those are God’s words and reflect how he felt about Israel’s rejection. I see a couple of lessons here and you may see others. First, God didn’t give up on them. Hear his tender words just a few verses later.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man— the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath” (Hosea 11:8-9 NIV).
Although Israel had rejected him and his encouragements, he would not give up on them. He loved them immensely and always sought their redemption.
We mustn’t give up on people. Our hearts ache when children reject the faith that saves. We are pained when friends persist in unrighteousness. But let us always work to bring them home (Galatians 6:1).
A second lesson is harder to accept. God allows people to make their own choices and decisions. In the case of Israel, God blessed them, he punished them, he sent prophets and he pleaded with them. Yet God did not remove their own ability to choose.
His choice persists from Eden. There God allowed Adam and Eve to either obey or reject him (Genesis 2:16-17). Joshua called upon Israel to choose the Lord (Joshua 24:1-15). Today, people have similar choices. No one is forced to follow. No one is compelled to serve.
While God surrounds all of us with magnificent blessings he always leaves the decision to us. It’s hard to watch a loved one choose a life of sin. But we must allow them the same choices God allows. We never give up and we always plant good seed. But ultimately each makes his own decision. It gives me some strength to know that even our heavenly father knows the pain of rejection.
6 comments On Rejection
Consider the fear and anxiety of the child who may have to face an avalanche of negative emotions and emotional blackmail from family members. All he’s doing is being honest about what he believes and who he is. For having this integrity he will be berated, ostracized or treated as lost or sick.
Maybe he’s right and it’s you who are the deluded ones. You Christians think you occupy the moral high ground. Well, you don’t.
Thank you for visiting Joe. Honesty must never be discounted or discouraged. In fact, the only way to deal with a sin problem is to freely confess it. Let’s not be in denial here: not all people who wear the name Christian react the way they should when confronted with sin. Nevertheless, unrepentant sin does cause one to be lost. Your portrayal of all Christians as being deluded is not well founded. As for the moral high ground I would simply say that while we do not always get there, we ought all be trying. I would ask that in the future you not paint with such a broad brush. I think you know it is unfair and inaccurate.
Well for one thing—admitting you don’t buy into Christianity is not a “sin” and it doesn’t become one. My point was that too many people young and old are admonished and treated as lepers by the Christian community for daring to hold these opinions. This is why so many remain in the closet about their atheism fearing a torrent of wrath and vitriol for daring to be honest. “Our integrity sells for so little but it is the very last inch of us”.
You also mentioned something I wrote was not fair and accurate?—was it that Christians “don’t occupy the moral high ground?” I stand by that comment based on my observations of both Christians and non-Christians (atheists too). At the risk of a making blanket statement (something Christians routinely practice) I consider atheists to be some of the most ethical and morally benevolent people. As an example I give you the people of Japan who are among the most atheistic on the globe. Witness their behavior after that terrible Tsunami—absolute civility and cooperation without lawlessness. Contrast that to Haiti (a predominantly Christian country) after the earthquake. It’s been said that disaster and misfortune reveal the true moral capacity of people.
As for “sin” (a term Christians use for moral transgression)—the notion of substitutional atonement is profoundly irrational and morally absurd in it’s implications. It’s an attempt to relinquish moral responsibility. The moral responsibility for every choice you make (whether for good or bad) cannot be transposed to another—guilt is not transferable. Your moral stature is not at the mercy of someone else’s actions because nothing can alter the fact that you and you alone bear responsibility for what you do. Atonement (or taking credit) by someone else negates the moral responsibility that belongs to no one but you.
I think it’s fair to say that there are massive differences in our world views. You reject the very existence of God while I affirm not only his existence but the salvation that comes only through His Son Jesus Christ. To be clear I do think that the rejection of Jesus or to use the vernacular, the refusal to “buy into” Christianity is a sin. When one rejects Christ he is lost.
The only reasonable explanation for the morality you mention is God. Any other source, community, culture, country, government, family, self, etc. is changeable and cannot be relied upon for any sense of morality or a code of firm ethics. That said, many who deny God do live what I would call a moral life. They do good for people, pay attention to their responsibilities and do not cause trouble. Nevertheless that morality or sense of morality originates with God. Deny it all you wish but I am convinced you are positively in error.
But because of our vast differences I do not think we accomplish much by continuing our discussion in such a general fashion.
Spare me your lectures on morality. Christians like you haven’t a clue what the word means. When I read the bible I perceive no divine morality—only the primitive barbarism of a band of genocidal marauders who invent holy causes and divine command as justification for butchering neighboring tribes, dashing infants, spearing bellies of pregnant women, rape, slavery and other atrocities—the OT is a bloodbath.
As Richard Dawkins so aptly put it: “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
Since I’m an atheist I obviously don’t believe this god (Yahweh) exists but if he/she/it did exist, I could not worship such a monster as much as I tried.
The bible wreaks of it’s backward, superstitious origins. It’s no more the work of a “divine creator” than the Koran or any of the other absurd speculations by primitives who didn’t know a rational thought from their rear ends.
“Spare you the lectures?” Really? You came here, not the other way around. You generalizations speak to the emptiness of your wisdom and understanding. If you can’t converse on a higher level then I must ask that you not return. This is a forum for serious study yet you decline to do little more than make broad generalizations without foundation. I see little reason to continue to spend time with you on this issue.
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