I’ve been feeling rejected lately, at work, at home, at the grocery store. I don’t imagine that all the situations that lead me to believe that I am no longer wanted or fun to be around are based on my witness for Christ or because I have some halo above my crown blinding the antagonists in my life. It is more likely that my words thud heavily on tender toes or my persistent dysphoria surrounds me like Pigpen’s little dirt cloud swirling up and outward when he moves. If my fleshly verbiage lands like gravel on the faces of my friends and family, what must it feel like to be struck by the sword of the Spirit of God?
This is the first time I have experienced shock at reading John 6:45-71. The words of Jesus to His multitude of disciples in the peak of His ministry is a chilling truth to the “untaught.” I stepped into the shoes of an unbeliever and read those words, listened as if in the crowd.
“You must eat my flesh and drink my blood,” Jesus emphasizes, once, twice, three times and once again. I was immersed in images of all the zombie and vampire movies my teenage granddaughter dragged me to see through mostly closed eyes covered by hands allowing only slices of teeth and gore and body parts to slip through. Jaw dropping, mind numbing.
What kind of damage control was this? Knowing that many of these followers were not true believers, Jesus could have used some motivational speech or promises of streets of gold to woo them back. Instead He speaks with morbid, stomach wrenching, hemaphobic producing visions to illustrate the hardcore commitment of faith it will take to truly be His disciple. What else could He expect but rejection? Backing away in horror believing this Man was a demon or afflicted with some kind of mental illness, the crowd thinned. Jesus turned to His twelve chosen, and perhaps piercing eyes meeting every frightened glance, asked “And do you also want to go away?”
So why do His disciples stay? Peter says, (and I envision him nearly in tears) “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
When rejected, I tend to run toward or after the one who is leaving. Rarely has this worked. I have seen that accepting the distance salvages at least a connecting thread of grace. In this space I pray and reflect on what has happened. Only then do I hear the Holy Spirit point out my faults and weaknesses, only then do I change. And only then can I begin to gently tug on that thread.
I would not have the Presence of the Holy Spirit to convict, correct, and guide me into the restoration of relationships, if not for Peter’s truthful testimony and my like confession, “To whom shall I go? I have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Does Christ understand our deep hurts and feelings of rejection? Can rejection draw us closer to His words of eternal life? No doubt about it. Beyond the darkness of ugly, blood-thirsty pain waits the brilliance of faith for supernatural cleansing and healing, and the burning beauty of the Son that turns rejection into ash.