The Temptation of Self-Rejection

“No sooner had Jesus come up out of the water than He saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit, like a dove, descending on Him. And a voice came from heaven: ‘You are my son, the beloved; my favor rests on you.'”

The Beloved. Here we learn that title belongs to Jesus. But through the rest of the love story called the gospel we learn it belongs to us too.

It’s certainly not easy to hear that voice today in a world filled with voices that shout: “You are no good. You are ugly, worthless, despicable. You are a nobody–unless you can prove otherwise.”

These negative voices are so loud and persistent that it is easy to believe them. That’s the great trap of self-rejection.

I am surprised at how quickly I give in to the temptation of self-rejection. As soon as someone criticizes me or I feel rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I find myself thinking: “That proves once again that no one loves me, that I am a nobody.” Instead of taking a critical look at my circumstances or my limitations or others’ limitations, I blame myself–not just for what I did, but for who I am. My dark side says, “I am no good…I deserve to be pushed aside, rejected, and abandoned.”

Now others lean  toward arrogance which is just the other side of self-rejection. Arrogance is putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself or letting others see you as you really are. Arrogance is just another way of dealing with self-rejection. Whether I am inflated or deflated, I lose touch with the truth and distort my vision of reality.

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Do Our Actions Match Our Convictions?

Daniel 6:4-5…

At this, the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”

Daniel’s opponents scrutinized him to find faults. They couldn’t find any so they basically made up some.

If someone examined my life (your life), would my (your) actions match my (your) convictions? Would I (you) be found blameless and faithful.

Don’t You Get It: You Are NOT in Control

A central theme in the story of Jesus’ arrest is being “handed over.” In the Garden, Jesus was “handed over” to Roman authorities. Some translations say he was “betrayed,” but the Greek says that Judas “handed over.”

The same word is used also for God. Romans 4:25, “Jesus was handed over for our sins.” Romans 8:32, “God did not spare Jesus, but handed him over to benefit us all.” So “handed over” is important in the spiritual movement of Jesus from ministry to passion.

The drama of being handed over radically divides the life of Jesus in two parts. The first part of his life is filled with activity and initiative. Jesus preaches, heals, and travels. But immediately after he is handed over, Jesus is the one to whom things are being done. He is arrested, led to the high priest, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Things are being done to him over which he has no control.

This is the meaning of “passion” (to suffer). He is the recipient of other people’s actions. It is important for us to realize that when Jesus says, “It is finished” (John 19:30), he does not simply mean, “I have done all the things I want to do.” He also means, “I have allowed things to be done to me that needed to be done to me to fulfill my purpose.” Jesus fulfills his vocation not in action only, but also in passion. 

We are so preoccupied in our culture with staying in control. Our self-esteem is largely based on our ability to stay active, be productive, take initiative, and set directions for our lives. The reality is that we have very little control over our lives. Most things are done to us or not determined by us (gender, color of skin, nationality, family of origin, and education). And our common destination is death.

The challenge is to see our passion as much as our action as vocation. How are you called to follow the way of Jesus to the cross? how are you called to follow Christ to new life? Both are parts of following Jesus in life and death.

Passion is a kind of waiting–waiting for what other people are going to do. All action ends in passion. To love another is to realize that they have the power and freedom to hand us over to suffering, whether intentionally or not. When we are handed over, we wait to be acted upon. When the time comes, we let go of our wishes and desires, and wait open-endedly for others to act, for God to deliver, giving up control over our future and letting God define our lives.

Our First and Foremost Spiritual Task

Our first and foremost spiritual task is to claim God’s unconditional love for ourselves through Christ. 

This is not an easy identity to claim because to deserve being loved our society requires us to be successful, popular, or powerful. But God does not require our success, popularity, or power in order to love us. Once we discern our identity and accept God’s unconditional love, we are free to live IN the world without being OWNED BY the world.

When you start believing this, this spiritual knowledge will grow until it transforms your daily life. You will still have rejection and you will still have pain and losses, but you will live no longer as a person searching for his or her identity.

Happy Church Leaders

It is important that church leaders be happy in their work, that we “serve the Lord with gladness” (Psalm 100:2). A church experiences love through the happiness of its leaders. Hebrews 13:17, “[Your Leaders] are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Indeed, it is a joy to serve First Christian Church  and serve our community alongside the FCC family.

Pain and Suffering aren’t Obstacles in Light of Jesus’ Pain and Suffering

Luke 24:26,

Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?

These words are among the best known of the gospels for they radically change our view of suffering. Pain and suffering are no longer obstacles to the glory of eternal life, they have become the inevitable way to it.

Rather than expecting a life without disappointments or moments of depression, we see that Jesus comes to meet us right in those moments, with hope and the potential for a new way of seeing and believing. It is the suffering of Jesus that is the source of new life.

 

Prayer isn’t All About us

The word “intercession” in the original language of the New Testament means “having freedom of access.” It was originally a technical term that meant meeting with a king in order to make a request. In the Bible, intercession means “making a request of God on behalf of others.”

Job 42:7-9,

After the Lord had said these things to Job, he said to Eliphaz the Temanite, “I am angry with you and your two friends, because you have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has. So now take seven bulls and seven rams and go to my servant Job and sacrifice a burnt offering for yourselves. My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly. You have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” So Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite did what the Lord told them; and the Lord accepted Job’s prayer.

The privilege of access is given to us not simply so that we may ask for OURSELVES but so that we may ask FOR others, especially those who have no access, that is they don’t use the access offered to everyone.