How did Jesus feel when he was rejected and shunned? In all the little moments of his life and ministry, when people wouldn’t listen to him or forced him out of a town or figured he was a heretic or crazy or drunk or worse. How, in his normal, everyday life, did he react when people didn’t believe in him, doubted him and thought him to be lacking in wisdom and understanding and in obedience to the God of Torah? In the stillness of his heart and mind, what did he feel and think, and how did his spirit react to all of these situations, rejections and doubts?
We construct these false selves to avoid the very rejection and doubt of others that Jesus experienced on a regular basis. We make elaborate facebook profiles and strategic instgram lives so that we might present our best (and often false selves) so that people might accept us, “like” us and believe in us. And then there is your resume… don’t get me started.
The layers to which Jesus experienced this might be a bit deeper, but let’s be honest, we want people to believe in us as well. We want to be thought of as “enough” and as capable and cool and worth listening to and being friends with. Much of our living energy is spent attempting to earn acceptance or prove our worth or maybe even prove to ourselves that we don’t need to prove anything or earn acceptance from anybody, but let’s be honest.
Does Jesus’ call to take up our cross and die have anything to do with this?
The example Jesus set and the life the Spirit enables is one of confidence and safety. Jesus always felt safe in the Father’s care and kingdom in which he had his primary residence.
That same acceptance, confidence and safety is offered to us if we will find our primary identity (let me use a word we won’t misinterpret and run wild with), if we will find our primary life and citizenship in the Kingdom of God. This is exactly how Jesus could be a centered and whole self despite rejection. This is how he could live calm in the midst of chaos and how he would let some folks nail him to a tree, not only without retaliating but with words like “forgive them, they don’t have a clue” on his lips.
Jesus, I’m not there. My inner life is often tossed about when I experience rejection or when a person doubts my ability and my good enough-ness, but I desire to follow you to the place of peace and confidence that exists only in your kingdom. Help me to reside so fully in this place of your rule and reign that my moments in this present evil age and corrupt old creation are moments of prophetic presence and new creation living, bringing and invitation sharing. May my life be lived praying “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” and also being used by you to be an answer, if only in part, to that very prayer you’ve taught me to pray and enabled me to live.
These are the thoughts I had today in morning prayer. The text of the morning was Acts 22:30 — 23:11. This is Paul’s experience with some of the ideas above, his thoughts of rejection and persecution. I would wonder how Paul dealt with it as well, but as is true for Paul and also true for us, the ultimate example for living is Jesus.
I was led in morning prayer on this day by Pray As You GO, a great resource for your commute to work or for the few moments you have before your day gets going. The song they sang was “We live in the shelter of the almighty.” Fitting for these thoughts, for sure.
Grace and Peace
(PS :: The image above is a depiction of a story from Mark 10, the familiar story of The Rich Young Ruler. This was one of the many stories that came to my mind when I thought of little, everyday ways in which Jesus was rejected and thought of as not enough or doubted as sufficient. There are dozens of others… What story comes to your mind?)