Friday, December 08, 2006

Being rejected

I always wonder at the purveyors of the idea that Christians will be successful. If we are servants of the living God, then a story like the following from Luke 20 seems to indicate that we’ll be beaten, beaten and insulted, or even beaten, insulted and killed. That’s a very different expectation than that when we become Christian we will be healed or our money problems solved or our family problems be resolved.

Certainly we are promised joy and wholeness and peace that passes understanding. And those things are more than just the simple getting enough money, being healed or any other desire that’s trapped in the world of time. We are to be about our daily tasks rather than trying to get some reward or another just because we professed Christianity or gave some great sum.

In Colossians Paul continues this idea that we aren’t going to have a great life by the standards of this world. In Colossians, Paul rejoices in his sufferings (1:24) and affirms that he is struggling (2:1). The victory is in Jesus Christ, but we are still in this old world and the birth pans of the new world are in process.

To talk of the miracles and other signs of the new realm as if they will come to every Christian is meretricious nonsense. The life of a Christian is rather more likely to be filled with derision, rejection, and sorrow. The Roman Catholic classic hymn “Faith of our Fathers” has it right when it talks of faith living still in spite of fire, prison and sword. That is what we Christians have to look forward to in this life. Christianity is just not wealth, health, family togetherness or any such temporal items.

Luke 20:9-18

[9] He began to tell the people this parable: "A man planted a vineyard, and leased it to tenants, and went to another country for a long time. [10] When the season came, he sent a slave to the tenants in order that they might give him his share of the produce of the vineyard; but the tenants beat him and sent him away empty-handed. [11] Next he sent another slave; that one also they beat and insulted and sent away empty-handed. [12] And he sent still a third; this one also they wounded and threw out. [13] Then the owner of the vineyard said, 'What shall I do? I will send my beloved son; perhaps they will respect him.' [14] But when the tenants saw him, they discussed it among themselves and said, 'This is the heir; let us kill him so that the inheritance may be ours.' [15] So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What then will the owner of the vineyard do to them? [16] He will come and destroy those tenants and give the vineyard to others." When they heard this, they said, "Heaven forbid!" [17] But he looked at them and said, "What then does this text mean: 'The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'? [18] Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces; and it will crush anyone on whom it falls."

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