“Then he said to the disciples, ‘Anyone who accepts your message is also accepting me. And anyone who rejects you is rejecting me. And anyone who rejects me is rejecting God, who send me.'”
–Luke 10:16 (NLT)
Most of us who live in America don’t know what it means to be shunned for Christ, and that includes yours truly. We are comfortable eating our three square meals a day, and our idea of suffering is being stuck in a traffic jam. I have heard testimonies of people who were shunned for there faithfulness to Christ, and rejected by family and friends. While I myself have never had to take a radical stance for my faith, we have all suffered rejection. Maybe it is not to the same degree as some of our brothers and sisters, but I would like to share something with you anyway, because it changed my life forever. I hope this story will change your life as well.
I am a hospital chaplain. I was on call one weekend, so I wasn’t surprised when my phone rang. Although I was in the middle of something, I grudgingly picked up the receiver. Sure enough, a nurse was on the line. She said that a patient was dying, and she asked me if I could come. I told her I would be there in a few minutes, and I hung up the phone.
Since nobody cared about a dress code, I got ready quickly. Then I called a cab, and rushed out the door.
In spite of the call from the nurse, I still didn’t know exactly what to think, so I was surprised when I got to the floor. Instead of expressing grief or asking for my help, the patient’s family acted like I didn’t exist. They had called in a Catholic priest, who also completely ignored me. It was like a slap in the face. I finally stormed off toward the elevators, fuming to myself that I had been treated like dirt.
Later, when I stopped feeling sorry for myself, I did some serious thinking, and I asked myself some tough questions. Hadn’t I done what I thought God was calling me to do? I had to answer yes, and I wondered what I had been thinking. I reminded myself that just because everyone in that hospital room had rejected my message, they weren’t rejecting me. They were rejecting Him who sent me.
“After all,” I scolded myself, “this only took up a small part of your weekend. How selfish can you be? Anyway, remember that the people who ignored you were hurting.”
Then I sighed, reconciling myself to the plain fact that while I didn’t want to admit it, my comfort zone had been more important to me than my calling had at that time.
But I wasn’t satisfied, and I continued to give myself a good talking-to, wondering what I had expected. After all, wasn’t this par for the course in the Christian life?
Instead of trying to figure it out, I turned my thoughts towards God’s Word in a new way. Realizing that the man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief had been no stranger to this kind of reaction, I remembered the times when people didn’t give him the time of day. The son of God left heaven, only to sleep out in the cold as a homeless preacher. He was cruelly mocked, nailed to a rough wooden cross outside the city, and laid in a borrowed tomb which couldn’t hold Him down.
He was the one who I professed to follow, and I had intelectually known this for years. But now I took an all-too-occasional stop, and I now contemplated the rammifications of that again. In prayer, I looked at what Christ had done in light of my own circumstances, and how He had led me in the past. I was amazed, and I decided to try and praise God more often, regardless of my feelings.
This decision has left me with my mouth open, completely overwhelmed by God’s blessings. But more than that, it caused my minor inconveniences to look tiny. With shame, I saw that my motivation was all wrong that day, and it has been wrong many times since then.
I can be like a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, making lots of noise but filled with love that has grown cold. I knew that I needed to ask God for forgiveness, for Jesus had warned all of His true followers not to become lukewarm. He tells us that we will all face rejection for His sake. He also said that we should not be discouraged, for He had gone ahead of us. It was never God’s perfect will for His children to face persecution and rejection, but man turned His back on God and went his own way.
Therefore, while the message of the cross isn’t a popular one, it carries with it eternal blessings. I found new strength and peace that night when I remembered that he who stands for the cross must kneel at God’s throne.
As I have said above, Jesus told us that He would walk through dark times with us. His exact words were, “I will never leave or forsake you.” But have we forsaken Him?
We often get so busy that we don’t see the subtle infection of complacency and bitterness as it creeps into our lives. Therefore, I believe that Christ would call all of us to renew our commitment to Him. Complacency is dangerous, and if we listen to its voice, it can keep us from taking a stand for Christ. More importantly, it can rob us of the eternal blessings which I spoke about earlier.
So let Christ help you stand for Him today, and you won’t fall when times get tough. Cling to Him, and you won’t suffer the infection of bitterness and complacency that rejection can bring.
Thank you for reading this, and may the Lord give you a wonderful week! We are trying to reach people who are hurting, so if God lays it on your heart, please consider becoming a partner with us. If you would like to make a donation, please visit www.hcmachaplains.org and click on the Donate Now link. You can also send donations by mail to HCMA (Healthcare Chaplains Ministry Association). Our ID number is 560. The address is 101 S Kraemer BLVD, Suite 123A, Placentia, CA 92870. Finally, you’re always welcome to join our Monday night Bible study or Tuesday night prayer meeting. Both are conducted by conference call, and they take place at 5:30 PM Arizona time. Our conference number is 712-775-7031, and our ID is 607518748. We hope to talk with you soon!
If you have questions, comments or prayer requests for Timothy or Stephanie Burdick, please call 507-369-6861.