What fears are gripping your heart today? Have you ever found yourself ‘running to the hills’ (so to speak), or even pulling away into isolation out of a fear of hurt or rejection from people? Think for a moment about the fears that were gripping the heart of Jesus prior to His suffering on the cross. The fear of torment, accusations, mocking, ridicule…and ultimately rejection; enough to make any of us desire to run. Yet, Jesus faced his fears, and as Scripture tells us, out of the joy that would come of it, He gave Himself away and endured the cross.
Have you ever loved, only to be rejected? Have you ever given, only to be unappreciated? You’re not alone. God knows all about this. I think it’s amazing to consider how even the greatest of love and generosity toward us – expressed in God’s Presence with us through Jesus, and our rescue found in His cross – can be returned with such cruel rejection. Yet, that’s the risk Jesus took, giving us the choice to love Him or reject Him. That’s essentially the risk we all take when it comes to loving and giving in life. Our tendency, when it comes to giving ourselves away in love, is to play it safe, minimize the risk, only go after the battles we’re sure to win, avoiding rejection, and perhaps even people, in the process.
Have you ever thought that your journey with God would find it’s greatest fulfillment if you could only remove the obstacles of people? If you’ve ever had your heart wounded through the rejection of others, you may find yourself tempted to pull away from not only those who have hurt you, but from people in general. I’ve found myself here, and I’ve found myself empty in that place. You see, I think we find ourselves in an extremely dangerous place when we pull away from people, specifically meaningful, authentic relationships where we’re walking with others, learning more about ourselves and what it means to follow the Way of Jesus. Perhaps that’s what’s so dangerous about referring to church as ‘community;’ it involves giving yourself away to others, and sometimes that’s a risk we’re unwilling to take.
A part of the challenge in the journey with God is to never give up on people, because the journey is lived out in the context of relationships. And if we’re ever to find healing from the wounds of rejection, it will only be found when we give ourselves away to a higher purpose than ourselves. Simply put, we get better when we give ourselves away.
Jesus’ joy was knowing that His suffering would bring us life. And by giving Himself away, He has shown us that wholeness and completeness of heart in life is only found when we do the same…and that begins in the context of relationships and ‘community.’
What are your fears when it comes to ‘community?’ Face them, and discover the joy of Jesus in giving yourself away!