For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)
The fear of rejection underlies the majority of ailments common to the human soul. This is so because in the narrative of Genesis we decided to reject God and God gave us the desires of our heart – we did not want to walk with Him but pursue our own course, and He has allowed us to exercise the gift of His sovereignty even as that power to will was exercised against Him. All the while in this endeavor of eternality the Godhead has always known the redemption underway to restore God’s image in humanity into union with the God in whom that humanity was imaged, that together in perfect love creatures and Creator would again exist in harmony of eternal measure.
Nevertheless, with these glories yet to come in their fullness, and now merely a glimpse of the eternal tomorrow in the sorrows of the temporary today, we find ourselves revisiting the old fears of missing out on something good or Someone good not missing us. We are afraid of distance, even though in times of emotional distress or anxiety we practice it to release ourselves from burdens too great for man to bear but not humbled enough for man to call upon God. We raise children on the time-out – this situation is bad, be alone. We raise ourselves on the time-out – this relational pain is too great, I’ll withdrawal. We raise adults on the time-out – I don’t like your opinion which threatens mine and therefore my place as belonging to a group of people who allow me to belong, therefore I’ll block you on social media and push you away. If you commit a crime we place you in institutions of societal time-out and forced separation, certainly from your victims but also from your family. When nations err in policy or practice we place sanctions to isolate them. We have filled our lives from preschool to the United Nations with the idea that hard moments demand lonely responses. Isn’t it interesting that human beings pushed out of God’s presence view pushing away as the worst that can befall a child, criminal, spouse or nation? And now in this hardest of moments we have been required to separate from others – often during their moments of distress – creating powerful feelings of helplessness and sometimes a nagging sense that we must have done something wrong because being lonely means you did something wrong, or so we have practiced as a culture. And in fact that makes sense because our rejection of God rooted in our alignment with Satanic lies of independence and autonomy came with profound loneliness – Adam and Eve in this case driven out of the garden and an angelic presence not ministering to them, but in fact excluding them. On that note the book of Hebrews says that angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation” and so in this new order of divine redemption the very beings used to prevent our access to God become the very beings which help facilitate our kingdom work on earth. The main point, however, is that rejection is one of the fundamental issues of personal wounding and absolutely critical to address in becoming who we really are in Christ.
On that, Paul writes that nothing in the spiritual or physical world can come against with any measure of success the relentless and invasive love of God expressed in Jesus. And Paul does not write from a theoretical posture – everything he mentions he experienced. The truth is that you are loved by God and nothing can stop that. Feelings of rejection become irrelevant to life when the One who gave it is the One who restores it. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Eph. 2:13). You were far – the feelings of rejection were legitimate. But you are not far anymore – the feelings of rejection are now false. Despite the pressure of their presence they are devoid of truth. But this is only true of being in Jesus. The world still is reeling from its rejection of God and chasing anything to avoid confrontation with the abyss of despair that the human soul encounters when its Creator has been disdained and fellow creatures clearly incapable of this divine-sized task of love. Even as believers we lean into our spouses and children and families and friends at times to calm feelings of rejection when for whatever reason they are stirred again. But usually that makes us pressure people into being close to us and, sensing they are being asked to do the impossible or unsustainable, they create some kind of space some kind of way, which only accentuates our fear that indeed we have been rejected, and the cycle expands until we give into a sense of increasing loneliness, bitterness and pain or expend ourselves in a series of superficial but frequent forays into fun, recreation, work and play in an effort to convince ourselves the problem is others rather than us. We find ourselves unable to sustain relationships because what we are asking from those relationships is impossible – to not feel rejected. Eventually weary of the perceived risk of once again experiencing disappointment – with spouses or kids or fellow Christians – we arrange our heart in a defensive pattern that allows us sufficient openness to stay connected but sufficient hiddenness to remain safe. This feels like death because we aren’t really loved, just tolerated as much as we are just tolerating others, but nevertheless is the only kind of life we know.
But this cycle of personal emptiness finds its permanent termination in Jesus. His ascension proves that Father God received Him. By believing on Him we are just as accepted as He is. And if we are just as accepted as Him by believing upon Him then only if the Father will reject the Son will the Father reject us. Our place in the love of God is as sure as the Jesus who labored to show it. So our faith in Jesus will be the ceiling to our settling of self. We will feel internal peace to the degree we trust His eternal work. The more we are in Christ the less we are in ourselves, and the less we are in ourselves the less we partake in the humanity which is lonely and the greater experience we have of the belonging which is holy. We don’t need to be scared anymore. Just faithful.
There is always something trying to come between you and an experience of the love of God. It could be from the context of your circumstances or the enemy of your soul. But whether from earthly dread or demonic ambition we stand fast in having been received. Full stop. God loves you. Right now. “While we were still sinners…” So your effort was immaterial. His effort was sufficient and it is false religion to think otherwise. Your zeal to prove your value will isolate you from the love which shows your worth. Grace means you need it. And to need it means you couldn’t get it and don’t deserve it. And to get what you do not deserve and keep what you did not earn from a God you did not desire means that nothing is left expect to simply fall into being accepted.
God knows nothing can keep you from Him. So having removed the obstacles of the exterior the only thing left are the issues of the intimate within. Certainly, life and its difficulties have not decreased. But of incomparable importance His love has not disappeared.
Be wise in how you live – and I need the same advice – because everything and anyone can seem to move between you and Him. But the truth is found not in the power of our perceived problems nor the pain of our personal lives but the magnitude of our loving Father.