“Go where you’re celebrated, not tolerated,” commented my friend quoting someone else, when I was talking to her about my recent experiences where I apparently was merely tolerated than welcome, despite being invited.
Soothing as it was to my ego, I was vaguely uncomfortable. It didn’t seem to have the ring of truth that her remarks usually do. It bothered me enough to pray and ask the Lord about it and here’s what the Spirit of God showed me with stunning clarity. That statement was rejection talking, not agape love.
Jesus was not accepted or welcome into this world, which he’d made (John 1:11 AMP). Nevertheless, he came into the world and lived here fully as a man experiencing all that we experienced – temptations, hardships, difficulties, hunger, thirst and yet was without sin. (Heb 4:15 AMP.)
He went wherever he was invited, wherever God told him to go. He didn’t go just where he was celebrated. If he had, we’d all have been lost forever. Condemned to an eternity in hell. However, he never forced himself on people. He never transgressed man’s freewill. If asked to leave, He did.
In some homes like Simon the Pharisee’s, even though he was the guest of honour, he was merely tolerated. Certainly not celebrated. I can only recall one home where he was truly celebrated –that of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Oh yes, Zacchaeus joyfully welcomed him as well.
Still unwilling to give up, I asked God, “what about Jesus’ command to shake the dust of any place that doesn’t welcome you off your feet.” Lesson two commenced. Acts of the Apostles!
Paul was called to preach to the Gentiles (non-Jews a.k.a us). Yet, everywhere he went, he first went to the synagogue and preached to the Jews.
The Jews didn’t exactly receive him or his message joyfully. Sometimes they listened to him and wanted to know more. But ultimately they reviled, abused and rejected his message. The book of Acts records only two instances when he and his companion shook the dust off their feet and went to the Gentiles. Even this was after much abuse, reviling and rejection. Even so, at the next place he visited, Paul went to the synagogue as usual. He didn’t allow all the previous experiences of rejection to embitter him.
God then reminded me of modern-day believers who have acted similarly – David Wilkerson, Elisabeth Elliot. If either of them had given up and walked away because they were unwelcome and definitely not celebrated let alone tolerated, what would’ve happened to Nicky Cruz and his fellow gangsters or to the Auca Indians.
The lesson wasn’t complete. God showed me that all of us as believers and disciples are called to go where he wants us. The key is to go where God calls us not where our emotions lead us or only where we are welcome. If we let our emotions or our reception decide how we obey God, then Satan has us before we’ve even begun. All he has to do is send us messages of rejection left, right and center. We don’t force our way into peoples’ homes or lives, but we live where we are called to live.
I am only in charge of myself, not another person’s reactions to me. Therefore, I am responsible for my reactions to rejection. Like all of us, I tend to reject back in my attitudes, behaviour, words, actions…. And here’s where I have to choose whom to follow – my carnal nature or God.
Going where God wants me to go but with a bad attitudes, will tell on the relationships I form there, if any. People won’t feel loved or accepted the way God loves and accepts them and God is very limited then in how he can work through me. I’m not a good ambassador of the King.
On the other hand, if I can trust God to be my source of love and acceptance, look only to him for that, and trust him to help me handle whatever rejection or hurt I face with his agape love, and forgiveness then, the whole situation can change.
That doesn’t mean I should be a doormat and take out whatever treatment is dished out to me. Jesus didn’t do that –ever. Except maybe when he went to the cross. Neither does it mean that I should remain in an abusive situation because that is God’s will for me. God’s will is that we love those who despitefully use us and pray for them and bless them at the very least. God didn’t create us for rejection and neither does he like it when people reject each other. Rejection of another is not God’s will for anyone: it is the free will choice of people. Neither does he necessarily call us to remain in relationship with people who ill-treat us systematically. What we are to do in each situation and relationship depends on a number of factors. How we are to manifest the agape love of God in each relationship, is something only God can show and tell us – something we are to discern by spending time in prayer with God.
At the end of the day, I have a choice. Always. My way or God’s way…. The one brings death, the other, no matter how difficult, brings life, LIFE in abundance, LIFE eternal.