The Remedy For Rejection

THE REMEDY FOR REJECTION.

LUKE 15:1-32

Listen To The Remedy For Rejection

prodigal son

                C.S Lewis in his classic work Till We Have Faces, retells an ancient Greek myth of acceptance and rejection.  Orual is the daughter of the King of the Kingdom of Gloom a Kingdom near Greece. Orual has always felt rejected because she is not beautiful. Many would consider her to be ugly. When her mother dies her father remarries and she gains a step sister named Istra whom is known by her Greek name Psyche. Everyone considers Orual’s younger step sister to be beautiful and even Orual comes to love her as a daughter. The people of Gloom begin to treat Psyche as a goddess and begin to sacrifice to her. According to the priest of the local god named Ungit, who is a cruel and capricious god, this enrages Ungit and plagues and famine are released upon Gloom.  To satisfy the god the priest says Psyche must go up to the mountain and be offered as a sacrifice to the God of the mountain. Orual wants to rescue her beloved sister but she falls ill and is unable to.

Later Orual goes to the mountain where her step sister was left in chains as a sacrifice to the God of the mountain. But she finds her sister free from her chains. She finds her sister healthy even though there seems to be no way to provide for herself on the mountain. Psyche tells her sister that the God of the mountain has become her husband and there is a castle all around them, though Orual cannot see it. Orual doubts this. But she can’t explain how Psyche could survive in such harsh conditions without someone to provide for her. One morning, in the mist of the early morning, Orual gets a glimpse of this invisible castle. It is like a fleeting but glorious dream. And it causes her to question if her sister really has encountered a real God. But this God has one rule. Psyche cannot gaze on the God’s face. Orual thinks this is because the God is ugly and is trying to trick her sister into slavery. So Orual, under threat of hurting herself, convinces psyche to take a lamp at night to gaze on her husband in his chamber.

Because of her disobedience Psyche is banished from the mountain and forced to wander. The God of the Mountain appears to Orual and tells her that Psyche must endure suffering under an evil force because the covenant has been broken. And he tells her that “You too shall be psyche.” Orual interprets this as meaning she must suffer as her sister suffered.

When she returns to Gloom Orual’s father dies and she becomes Queen. The nation prospers under Orual. She is known as one of the greatest rulers the nation has ever known and the nation becomes beautiful because of her. She has become Psyche. It is just a different calling and a different beauty than psyche had. In a dream she learns that the impossible task that Psyche has received from the God of the Mountain was to retrieve a box of beauty from the underworld to bless humanity which she gives to her sister Orual.

Till We Have Faces is told in two books and is narrated by Orual. At the end of the book two Orual says these words, “ I ended my first book with the words no answer. I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice? Only words, words; to be led out to battle against other words. Long did I hate you, long did I fear you. I might –“ (Lewis, 308). And with these words Orual breathes her last breath. She began her life feeling there was no true God that truly loved her. But she ended her life seeing all the beauty the God of the Mountain had worked in her life by making her a great ruler. She had become Psyche. But her beauty was not the beauty of this world. It was the beauty of a world beyond this world pouring out into her life. The Apostle Paul puts it this way in 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

“But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. And we all, with unveiled faces, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is Liberty. And today we are talking about that liberty. Last week we talked about how we wrestle with rejection. We talked about how Jacob’s story is symbolic of our struggle with rejection.   Today we are talking about what Derek Prince calls, “God’s Remedy For Rejection.”  As Orual and the Apostle Paul says the Remedy for Rejection, the answer to all our questions, is the Lord Himself. As St. Augustine put it, “Our hearts are restless till they rest in you.” While I believe in professional counseling, and while I believe we can also benefit from medication to help emotional issues, I think the scriptures teach us that we are fundamentally spiritual beings. And the deeper roots of our problems are spiritual. They can only be resolved by establishing a relationship with the One who created us. This is what Jesus taught. This is what Jesus died and rose from the grave for to give us eternal life, and I believe eternal life starts before we die. And I think in the parable of the prodigal son, Jesus reworks Jacob’s story, the story of the nation of Israel, and our story, to show us who He is, to show us who our heavenly Father is. And when we behold the face of Jesus Christ in the scriptures and in our prayers we shall be changed. So today I want us to understand.

  1. What are the steps to overcome rejection
  2. How overcoming rejection changes our prayer life.

First, what are the steps to overcome rejection?

The first step, according to Prince, is we have to recognize that our problem is rejection. As the parable of the prodigal son puts it the son asked for his inheritance, which you only got when your father died, so he basically said he wanted his father to die. Then he went to a far off country and did what he wanted. But then one day he came to himself. He had an Eureka moment when he saw the wrong he had done. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus cried out on the cross, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34). And indeed when we hurt each other we may think we know what we are doing. But if we could truly see ourselves as God sees us we would see we are walking around in darkness. To change we have to admit we have a problem and we have to know what that problem is. The Bible says the root of many of our problems is a deep sense of rejection.

The second step, after we have admitted our wrongs, is to forgive those who have wronged us. If we truly believe that people are like lost sheep or a lost coin, if there is no such things as people who are beyond the Lord’s reach, we can think of people not as evil but as lost, and we can have mercy on them because we were lost ourselves. The Key to forgiveness is knowing the character of our Father in heaven and forgiving our earthly parents.

As we learned in Jacob’s story, Isaac was not a good father. He favored Esau over Jacob. And he did so for superficial reasons. Esau was good at hunting and brought Isaac tasty food. Jacob was a quiet man and worked in the kitchen. Esau was what Isaac expected a son to be and his love was not a self giving love but a selfish love. He wanted to bless Esau not for Esau’s sake but because Esau made tasty food for him. But Jesus tells us in these parables that is not who God is. God is like a good shepherd who leaves the ninety nine sheep to save the one. He is like a woman who searches for a valuable coin in the dark . He is like a Father who loves his son enough to let him curse him and let him go. But the Father still waits for his son and runs to him when his son returns. The Father favors the prodigal because the prodigal needs to be restored not because he loves the prodigal more than the good son. Indeed, when Jacob stole his brother’s blessing by dressing up as Esau, Isaac tells Esau that there is not enough blessing to go around. But the Father in this parable of the prodigal son tells the good son there is more than enough blessing for everyone. And all he had to do was ask. But to ask we must be focused on our Father in heaven and not on resenting those who have hurt us.

In teaching on forgiveness Prince focuses on the Fourth Commandment, honoring your mother and Father. Both the Old Testament and the New note that this is the only commandment with a promise. That it may go well with you in your life.  I know this is easier for some to do than others. We don’t get to choose our parents whether we are born into a family or adopted. And some of our parents may have been really great, others awful, and others in between.  God does not want us to honor our parents for the wrong they did to us. If you come from an verbally or physically abusive background honoring that isn’t honoring God, honoring that is sick, that is false religion, God does not honor that.  Instead, I think the Lord wants us to honor our parents because without them we would not exist. And by hating our parents we are in a way hating the fact that we exist. We live out the cycle of rejection because we think the very reason we are on this earth, our parents, is wrong, and thus we don’t think we should be here, so we can’t give or receive love. But we are supposed to be here. Our lives do fit into God’s plan. When we accept what our parents could give us, even if that was only our birth, and forgive them for what they could not give us, and depend on our Heavenly Father to provide what our natural or adopted parents could not give us, then we can be free to receive the Lord’s blessings. Because though I don’t believe that Jesus wants to make you rich and your life perfect, I do believe in God’s favor.  God tells us He can give us a feast of grace if we ask it of Him. There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. We are not condemned into a cycle of rejection, addiction, and violence. The good news is that Jesus Christ has given us eternal life and that life can start before we die. But we have to let go of our resentment. Esau resented Jacob for stealing his blessing even though he had earlier sold his birthright for some soup and bread because he was impatient.  Hebrews 12:15 calls this the bitter root of resentment that defiles many. And we know how resentment can defile us. We know how it can ruin us and our relationships. We know how hating those who hurt us can turn us into the very thing we hate . When we forgive we bless others and we free ourselves. There is a power when we decide to bless those who curse us. That power can change enemies into friends.  That power can change us from the inside out as well. Forgiveness can set us free. And we deserve to be free.

Finally, we must accept ourselves. As Ephesians 1:6 says he has blessed us he has made us acceptable in the beloved, in His Son Jesus Christ. The great thing about Jesus is that whether you think of yourself as worthy or not it doesn’t matter. We are made worthy, we are cleansed, we are washed by the water of the Word, we are made lovely by His love. We love not because we loved God but because He first loved us (1 John 4:19). When we accept Christ into our lives the Father does not see us He sees His Son. And as we behold the Glory of the Lord we are transformed into the image of that Glory.  We call the first part Justification. God doesn’t see us He sees Jesus. We call the second part sanctification. We become more like Jesus as we grow closer to Him. I know this is true. I know it is true because I see the Lord’s work in some of you who are older and wiser than I who I deeply admire.

Next, how does accepting God’s Remedy for Rejection affect our prayer lives?  It struck me as I thought about this that if God is love (1 John 4:8) and if we are unable to receive and give love, that we won’t be able to hear God, because like Jacob we will be too busy wrestling with ourselves, we will be too busy wrestling with rejection. But Paul tells us that hope does not disappoint us because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (Romans 5:5). God’s love is as real as the love of your spouse, as the love of a friend, as the love of a parent, and that love can be poured into our hearts, and that love can change us. And I think the key to receiving God’s love is overcoming resentment.

My first prayer as a Christian I asked the LORD to teach me how to love. It was a question that took fourteen years to answer. Fourteen years later he whispered to me, “are you willing to give up being right.” If you want to learn how to love you have to give up being right. Because Paul tells us that love is not self seeking. If we have not love it doesn’t matter if we have all the power, success, and knowledge in the world.  Love makes the world work. Love binds us together. Love rejoices in the truth and makes the truth known (1 Cor 13). It took me fourteen years to receive an answer to my first prayer as a Christian. It took that long because I resented all the hard things that the LORD has led me through. I thought God did not love me when life did not go my way. But as Job says “ Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10)

Often people say God works all things together for good. But this is a misquotation of Romans 8:28. What that scripture actually says is all things work together for good for those who love God and are called unto his purposes (Romans 8:28). It is a conditional statement. First, has Jesus called you, have you let him into your life? Second, have we accepted the Remedy for Rejection? Have we been filled with the Love of God? For the scriptures tell us that if we say we love God but hate our brother we are a liar and the truth is not in us (1 John 4:20). We must dig up the bitter root of resentment and let love fill that empty space. Have we let His love in? If you haven’t received Jesus as Lord today I pray that you would. If you haven’t received the Father’s love today I pray that your hearts would be filled with the love that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). I pray our hearts would cry out, “Abba, Father.”

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

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