Rejection, Piety, Following Jesus and Jusitification: A Pleading

 An open letter to the adult child that ended our relationship last summer: 

In subsequent months since your e-mail, I realized that, although you were technically incorrect on those specific accusations against me, I have done FAR worse things than the ones accused.  Since that is the case, if you believe that those things are enough to separate yourself from me, then you would no doubt do so emphatically if you knew of my other deeds.  So, what I am saying is:

 

1) I miss you and I wish you would not discard me and that you would allow me to do whatever good I can, as minimal as that might be.

 

2) If you really believe that the sin in my life is too horrid to be an acceptable person, then I will probably never be acceptable to you, because I am more sinful than you know.

 

3) This is not how I want our relationship to be, but I am grateful for whatever access I have to you and my grandchildren.  Truly grateful.

 

4) I understand the whole (denominational name) mentality to separate from people who are not like you.  I do not think it is what Jesus did though. Followers of Jesus probably want to do as Jesus did, don’t you think? I am aware of a few scriptures that support that view, such as: 2Cor 6:17,which talks about not being close with unbelievers and not practicing idol worship.  I am not an unbeliever and I do not worship idols, not do I want you to worship idols.  

 

Another scripture that might be more applicable here is found in Proverb 22:  24 Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go:25 Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.  Obviously, I am an angry person.  I do not like being angry.  I am not proud of it and I am trying to change it, but the bottom line is I am an angry person. So, if you want to scripturally reject me, do so with that passage. Of course there is a flip side to the whole scriptural issue too.  

 

Jesus’ example was not to separate from sinners, but to separate from those who thought themselves better than sinners.  Matthew 23: 23 to 39, Mark 12: 38-44.  Additionally, Jesus called Matthew, (Mt 9:9-13) a tax collector to be a disciple, and Peter, Mt 4:18-22) who was eventually made the head of the church, was an undisciplined man. Peter followed Jesus immediately when called, but then had trouble staying on course, much like me. Jesus ate with Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) who was a tax collector and a thief by profession.  In John 8, Jesus saves a rightly accused woman from paying for her sin by writing in the dirt.  Jesus even honored a prostitute over a Pharisee in Luke 7:36-50.  

 

Jesus does not have a problem with sinners.  He has a problem with sin.  His life showed that everyone has sin, even those who think themselves holy.  I guess what I am saying is this: I am sinful.  I am saved.  Jesus loves you and He loves me.  I understand if you reject me because I am angry.  I understand if you simply cannot tolerate being around me because my emotions are so intense.  From my perspective, we humans are all in the same boat… and it is sinking. Whether I am a bigger sinner than you or you are a bigger sinner than me, what difference does it make? (BTW, no contest, I am the bigger sinner, I am sure.) We are family both by blood and by the Spirit and we are called to help one another.  In addition to winning souls to Christ, we are to minster to one another in the body of Christ.  That is the church; the body of Jesus. Jesus tells Peter, “If you love me, Feed my sheep.” 3 times. He does not say to Peter, “If you love me, feed the sheep that do things as you do and avoid the rest of them out of fear of contamination.”  Not in there. Not even remotely in there. 

 

So many people, [not just you or even (denominational name)s in general] have gotten so confused about what being a follower of Christ is.  It is NOT about living a life of fear (which is, admittedly what I do ) it is NOT about condemning those unlike you, which is what most folks involved in church do.  

 

That is one HUGE reason so many people have left the organized religious structure as it exists.  We see the hate, the fear and the judgment, but there is very little honesty and love evident. There can be fake hugs in the aisles and shared meals in the fellowship hall, but do people really know each other in most churches?  Or is all about putting on a mask of piety so fellow brothers and sisters don’t condemn you or gossip about you?  How is that different from the Pharisees?  How is that being honest?  Is that fair to those who are sincerely trying to connect with others in order to “bear one another’s burdens?”

 

 We are left here on earth to bring glory to God by winning souls and being a blessing to everyone we can, especially those in the faith.  We cannot do that if we pretend we are not struggling and we insulate ourselves from those who might be more sinful than us. Sometimes, even those who are more sinful than us can bless us.  Maybe they have some insights to share with us.  Maybe they have learned some lessons through their sin, lesson worth sharing.  

 

Maybe Jesus is not done with them yet.  Not everyone is on the same level at the same time.  So while my life might not meet your standards, I am grateful it meets Jesus’ standards.  Jesus knows that we are ALL sinners in need of salvation and sanctification. Sometimes, lives change literally in minutes.  But more often than not, most of us have to work through our issues, our sinful habits, and our innate evil sin nature.  We give it to God as it is revealed to us and as we are able.  Jesus understands that and He is merciful.  If I have hurt you, I truly regret it. Please have mercy on me. Do not allow unforgiveness in your heart and mask it as piety.  Do not allow unforgiveness for any length of time, lest you too become an angry person.

 

I know you do not understand my illness and my inability to control my emotions.  It confuses me too.  Even I have trouble figuring out the difference between my illness, and me. The illness intertwines with who I am and has such a large effect on me. If you must, in order to protect yourself, reject me for that, for the illness.  I can accept that.  I even desire you to reject me in order to protect you and your children, if necessary.  

 

But please, do not reject me because you think I am too evil to accept.  That cuts me to the core. I am not more (or less) evil than any other follower of Jesus.  If I was, I could not love you enough to want you to protect yourself from me, if needed. I would selfishly only want the pleasure of your company, no matter what the cost to you or the children.  I love you so much and I want you to be well, no matter what. That being the case, can I really be more evil than anyone else you associate with in the church building?      

 

Psalm 118

King James Version (KJV)

118 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.

Let Israel now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Let the house of Aaron now say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

Let them now that fear the Lord say, that his mercy endureth for ever.

I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

The Lord taketh my part with them that help me: therefore shall I see my desire upon them that hate me.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.

It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes.

10 All nations compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord will I destroy them.

11 They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

12 They compassed me about like bees: they are quenched as the fire of thorns: for in the name of the Lord I will destroy them.

13 Thou hast thrust sore at me that I might fall: but the Lord helped me.

14 The Lord is my strength and song, and is become my salvation.

15 The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

16 The right hand of the Lord is exalted: the right hand of the Lord doeth valiantly.

17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.

18 The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death.

19 Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the Lord:

20 This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter.

21 I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation.

22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.

23 This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.

24 This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

25 Save now, I beseech thee, O Lord: O Lord, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

26 Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord: we have blessed you out of the house of the Lord.

27 God is the Lord, which hath shewed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar.

28 Thou art my God, and I will praise thee: thou art my God, I will exalt thee.

29 O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever.

Overwhelmed!

I often wonder about whether or not God is pleased with me.  I foolishly compare myself to others.  I try to measure myself and my accomplishments and contributions to figure out how bad I really am.  Even though I know it is a total waste of time that is destructive, I do it often and I cannot seem to stop.  No matter how “good” I am or how much I get done, I will NEVER measure up.  It is impossible.  The reason for that is because God is not comparing us against each other, but against His standards of perfection, which are sinless.  I can NEVER measure up.

No one can.  That is why Jesus had to come.  He was the only One who could pay the price for our lack, our sin,  our evil, our sin stains.  He is the only human who was perfectly sinless.  Now He was able to do this because He is also God. He was not born in sin, like the rest of us, yet He was tempted to sin by the devil.  He overcame that temptation and lived a sinless life and then He volunteered to go to the cross for us, to pay the price for our sin.

But, since He did pay the price for our sin, why do I wrestle  with my inadequacies?  Why can’t I leave my ugliness at the cross, with Jesus?  Why am I so tormented with guilt, shame, fear and hopelessness?  God has done His part.  Why can’t I do mine?  Why can’t I just accept what He did as sufficient?  Why can’t I walk away from my mess and walk in the freedom that Jesus’ death bought for me?  Am I really so horrid that I can not forgive me?

I listen to many preachers and other people who talk about why we humans need to do this or that.  My trouble is I do not know HOW to get it done.  I want to walk in freedom.  I want to walk in Truth.  I want to stop wallowing in self-pity and self-loathing, but I do not know how.   I read the Bible sometimes, I pray often and I ponder… and ponder… and search, but I am approaching old age now and I am still battling the same issues, most of them are internal.  My worst enemy is me.

Maybe Satan helps me be my worst enemy.  Maybe he is supplying me with some scotomas and other roadblocks to freedom.  But at some point, it is my responsibility, right?  I have to find the Way out.  But didn’t Jesus provide it already?  And if I accept Him as my Saviour, which I have done, then isn’t that also accepting the Way out of my own prison?  If so, why am I still bound?

Life is cruel.  My family largely rejects me.  The Christian part of my family rejects me because I am either too emotional, or because they think I lack character.  Well, I am very emotional.  I understand how that can tax someone’s energy.  I am exhausted almost all the time because I have to live with me.  SIGH.  I do not think rejecting me is a very charitable thing to do, but it is practical.  In short, I understand the family members who reject me because of my emotional volatility.  I do not think it is what Jesus would do and I do not think it is what Jesus wants them to do, but I understand it.  I regret it and I miss them very much.  It hurts to be cut off from them because I am too emotional.  I am unacceptable to them as I am.  I do not measure up to their standards of acceptability.

The other segment of my Christian family members reject me because they think I lack character.  I am not disciplined enough.  They question my integrity, my honesty.  They do not question my love for them.  They know I am honest with them.   I highly value honesty and truth in relationships.   In fact, I do not see the point in having personal relationships with people if both parties are not being honest about who they are and what they are.  Deceptive relationships, where someone is masked, are worthless, in my opinion.  They are necessary sometimes in the workplace, where the purpose is to fill a certain role and how you feel or what you think about that role is irrelevant.  You do what you are paid to do, as long as it does not conflict with your moral values.

But in personal relationships, I value knowing the real person and having them know the real me.  That requires honesty and openness.  So, I am honest in my personal relationships.  I do not lie to people to achieve some agenda to get my needs met.  In fact, I have done without  getting my needs met when the other (non-Christian) party requires I lie.  So why is it that this segment of my family rejects me exactly?  Because of things like my credit rating.  My credit rating is poor because I do not pay my creditors.  I can give you reason after reason as to why, but that is irrelevant to this topic.  Part of my family sees this as stealing.  While I can see their point,  I do not concur.  In addition, is this an adequate reason to reject a family member?  I do not think so.  Jesus does not reject me because I have a bad credit rating.  He does not approve of some of my methods of surviving, I am sure.  I am not proud of those.  But He still accepts me.  Why can’t they?

They are angry that I am needy.  They are angry that I am not consistent and stay the course when I set a goal.  You know what? Me too!  I am angry that I do not reach my goals.  I am angry that I am sick.  I am angry that I get so overwhelmed with life that I cannot get out of bed some days.  I disappoint me often because I depend on me to get some things done and they do not get done.  But my family who rejects me because of my character, they do not depend on me.  How are my inadequacies disappointing them?

Or instead of disappointing them, perhaps they are ashamed of having me as a family member?  Maybe having a family member with a mental illness and several physical illnesses is embarrassing to them?  Maybe they just want to distance from me.  Maybe they just want to pretend like I do not exist, so then mental illness does not exist so close to them.  Maybe rejecting me is their way of rejecting my illnesses too?

I dunno.  I am good at raising questions.  I am not so good at finding answers.  Jesus and Questions is what I have.  Jesus and pain and shame.  Even so, I am rich by comparison, because many do not have Jesus.  I have a friend who loves me no matter what.  I am grateful for that as I carry my questions around.