Rejection isn’t easy. Everyone remembers the first time they were rejected at school, by the sporting team, or by the boy or girl who wouldn’t be our friend. As we get older, rejection can become a serious problem. However, rejection is inevitable. You will be rejected, one way or another.
In Philippians, Paul talks to us about rejection that occurs when we choose to follow the Jesus way. If anyone had a resume and pedigree that would endear him with the most noble of people, the most popular, the most wanted, it certainly was Paul. But if one is serious about following the way of Jesus, we can expect that not everyone will be so accepting of us. When we begin to align our values with those of Christ, rejection might just be inevitable. But for Paul, the goal was not to be accepted by others but to experience the power of resurrection, the power of a life lived in harmony with God. What happens when we shift our goals toward that goal? Does our concept of rejection and acceptance change? Do we discover the power of being true to ourselves and to everything that God calls us to be, even though there is a very real possibility that we might experience the rejection of others? This just might be the finest life work of a disciple: to thine own self be true. ,
Consider ‘what you have done, and what you have failed to do’. Which weighs on your conscience more?
‘Cease doing evil. Learn to do good’ (Isaiah 1: 16 – 17). Turn down one temptation to uncharity every day, and replace it with a conscious choice to be gracious. ‘God’s kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life’.
(Matthew 21: 43-46 The Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard)
Jesus said, ‘This is the way it is with you. God’s kingdom will be taken back from you and handed over to a people who will live out a kingdom life. Whoever stumbles on this Stone gets shattered; whoever the Stone fall on gets smashed’. When the religious leaders heard this story, they knew it was aimed at them. They wanted to arrest Jesus and put him in jail, but, intimidated by public opinion, they held back. Most people held him to be a prophet of God.
I asked a friend, Don, how life was going for him, and he said that things were horrible at work. His wife’s friend’s husband had been out of work for a year or so back and Don paved the way for him to get an interview where he worked. Don’s company hired him, and Don felt pretty good he was able to help someone out.
But things haven’t turned out so well. The guy Don helped quickly got designs on taking over Don’s job, and he’s making Don’s life miserable. He constantly second -guesses Don in front of their colleagues. He finds reasons to talk to Don’s clients behind his back. He spreads false rumours to try to undermine Don’s authority with his staff.
As it turns out, the new guy is actually shooting himself in the foot. The bosses and staff, originally impressed with his initiative, have come to see how self-serving he is. It won’t be long before he’s out of work again, which saddens Don because the guy had a pretty good deal for himself – before he started angling to get more and more. In this week’s gospel, Jesus tells a parable about people who had a pretty good deal – in fact a covenant with God. But instead of enjoying the vineyard God prepared, they wanted it all for themselves. The good news this week is that there is only one God – and it’s not me and it’s not you. We just work for God.
Two men from Mars decide to do a little sightseeing on Earth. They realise that to avoid causing a panic they must appear as inconspicuous as possible. They obtain Aussie clothing, learn the language, and in general make themselves as ordinary as possible. During their first day on Earth nobody notices anything unusual about them. At the end of the day they celebrate their successful foray ay an exclusive restaurant. As they are praying their bill, they are astonished to hear the waiter say, ‘You guys must be from Mars!’
‘What?’ asked the dumbfounded Martians. ‘How can you tell?’
‘Well,’ replied the waiter, ‘you’re the first customers to pay cash since I’ve been working here’.
How can others see from the way we live that we are disciples of Jesus?
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