Posted on August 12, 2020 by Catey Stover in Freedom Fighters
“God uses our greatest pain to set our course for the greatest destination.”
There are two topics that are neglected in preparation for ministry. I am sure someone can come up with a few others, but these two seem to stay at the top of the list. The first is how to move furniture and load and unload equipment, and the second, how to deal with a broken heart.
At this point in my life, I have mastered the first; I have learned to ask young people to help. But I am not so good with the second, it blindsides me every time like a wrecking ball. My wife says my most significant trait is also my weakness, I am loyal. She says I will stay by someone’s side until it costs me my life. It has not gotten that far yet, but my heart bears several tender scars.
I know this is not just an issue for ministry, I know it’s a ‘life’ thing. The struggle in ministry is accepting a calling to bear other’s burdens, to walk that extra mile, to give your coat as well as your shirt to those in need. More significantly than these, it is being entrusted with the Gospel and told to “go and make disciples, teaching others to obey everything God has commanded you.” I am glad Jesus didn’t stop there; He continued with one fundamental promise, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matt 28: 19-20) So the struggle in ministry is your choosing to answer a call that makes your heart vulnerable, just like Christ.
I watched a show the other day in which Christians were described as ‘things to be avoided because they want to tell others how to live their life.’ This is true, not the being called a thing or the avoiding part, but it is the great commission Jesus commanded of us, ‘to go and make disciples’ telling others how to live in agreement with God’s Word. What rarely gets communicated is we do it out of love for God and His love for the World. “For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son, so all who believe in Him, and live in agreement with God’s Word, will have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 NIV) “So, what do you think? With God on our side like this, how can we lose… even when the knife is still in our heart? If God didn’t hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything else He wouldn’t gladly and freely do for us?” Like, be with you always, and fight for you in every situation to the very end of the age… (Romans 8:32)
Being misunderstood, the false accusations, being avoided or abandoned altogether, especially by those who become close friends, all really hurts. It makes it hard to trust. No one likes to be stabbed in the same spot over and over again. Relationships are hard enough among us self-interested people, add on top of that a calling to bear the truth that is antagonistic to our selfish motives, and you have ‘rejection’ written across your forehead.
Jesus was not unfamiliar with this topic. He warns His disciples, “don’t begin (to follow me) until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!'” So we cannot become His disciple without first understanding the cost of prioritizing God over everything else. That is reorienting all we hold as more important than God; “even your most essential relationships must seem like hate in comparison to your love for God.” (Luke 14:28-30, 33 NLT) If we don’t do this, we will be worse off then when we started.
This is the cost you must come to terms with before setting out to serve with Christ; if you don’t, you will turn back. And be forewarned, there is nothing left to redeem you when you treat the blood of Christ as insignificant and reject the pleading of the Holy Spirit. So please, count the cost.
Jesus warns again, almost like He is talking us out of following Him, “If the World hates you, remember that it hated Me first. The World would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the World. I chose you to come out of the World, so it hates you.” (John 15:18-19 NLT)
Dealing with rejection and betrayal is not a subject that can be taught. It’s why there is no course study for it, it is something we must trust God to walk us through. Jesus knows what you are dealing with. Paul, who was also very familiar with the subject himself, writes, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV)
You can trust Jesus to stay by your side, even to the point of it costing His life. Being confident of this very thing, we can be certain of God’s promises, “for who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God’s chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? The One who died for us—who was raised to life for us! And is in the presence of God at this very moment sticking up for us. Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We’re sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.”
Romans 8:31-39 MSG
Believers that live in agreement with God’s Word are not like those who turn away from Him to their own destruction. They are the faithful ones whose souls will be saved… like Enoch. How cool would it be to live like him, one of the two who were taken up to Heaven without dying? The Bible tells us Enoch disappeared because God took him. “For before he was taken up, he was known as a person who pleased God. And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:5-6) One young girl described him to her teacher this way, she said, “Enoch was a man who learned to walk with God, and they used to take long walks together. One day they walked so far that God said, ‘Look, Enoch, it’s too far for you to go back; just come on home with me.’ So he walked on home with God.” He became forever a picture of what death is to the Christian… only an incident, hardly worth mentioning. That is the reality that Enoch discovered by faith.
It is this faith, founded on the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all else, that gets us through the heartbreaks. This is not a scholastic idea that can be taught in a classroom; it is something we must take hold of through real-time experience of God’s lovingkindness and the work of the Spirit. Faith that pleases God sees past the heartache to His work in and through our lives. It considers the rejection aimed at Christ and not ourselves and realizes the conflict those are in who God is drawing to Himself. If we agree with God about our sin, we surrender control and live for God. Our old, willful self must be crucified with Christ and no longer govern us; by this, we make room for Christ to fill us up and live His holy life. “So the life we now live in this earthly body, we do so by trusting in the Son of God, who loves us and gave himself for us.” (Galatians 2:19-21)This is a faith that sticks closer than a brother, laying his life down for his friends. It is a faith that bears the wounds of rejection in hope against hope, that one day those who God loves through us, will repent and agree with Him about our sin.
I am sure I have not been wounded for the last time… but as painful as those scars are to bear, they nowhere come near to the joy set before us, the delight of sharing a ‘Oneness’ with God that only the ‘New Song’ of Heaven can give voice to.
I hope you are there, I hope a lot of others I care about will be there to sing Heaven’s ‘new melody.’ I pray the hardness of your heart towards God won’t keep you away… for “*What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see, When I look upon His face the one who saved me by His grace; When He takes me by the hand and leads me to the promised land, What a day, glorious day that will be.”
© 1955. Renewed 1983 Ben Speer Music
Written by David Brown: David Brown is a husband, father, grandfather, Pastor with a Masters of Religious Studies and a Professor of Philosophy and Comparative Religions. Dave is the Associate Pastor of Pemberton’s First Baptist Church.
Think About This: “God has given us two hands, one to receive with and the other to give with.” – Billy Graham
This Week’s Verse to Memorize: 15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men 1 Peter 2:15
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the doctrinal and theological views held by America’s Keswick.