153. WHEN A SISTER OR BROTHER IN THE CHURCH REJECTS YOU

(The Faith Forum Series – Batch 3)

For someone who has always struggled with people’s opinions of me and trying to please them, it has been hard for me, having joined a new Church while away from the island where I had been raised, to be meted with what comes across as hostility, coldness and scorn by another sister of so-called ‘high standing’ at that Church.

As imperfect as I may be, I know in my heart that I have done her nothing, although she may have misunderstood my words in a short conversation we had prior. Since then, I have been trying to be friendly, although people have told me in the past, that I have a serious-looking face and demeanour. Sometimes it appears that she is under conviction and trying as well, then it seems that she reverts to the same cold behaviour.

This has me puzzled and I admit, it has made me feel bad, to question why she seemingly dislikes me, someone that she does not even know. I have had to even guard against wondering sometimes, (given that she holds high position in the Church and is well-respected), if God feels the same way that she feels about me. I have had to fight the nagging temptation to believe, that because I am for some unknown reason, out of favour with her, that I am also out of favour with God.

How could someone, who knows nothing about your past, what you have been through, what God has taken you through and anything about you or your character for that matter, take such an intense dislike to you and seemingly have no qualms showing it?

In my desperate search for answers, I have come to realize though, that there is an over-abundance of everything in the world, except for love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, humility, compassion, consideration, gentleness, patience, understanding and long-suffering. These virtues, even among those that profess Christianity are severely lacking and this is why the world is so full of problems today.

I have also learned not to expect anybody to be anything or for people to conduct themselves in a particular manner. There are some you will come across in the household of faith that are self-righteous, that will cast down their nose at you, that will think that they are better than you and more special to God than you, that will hold your wrongs or what they perceive as your wrongs against you, no matter how hard you try for peace, that will be envious of gifts and talents that God has given you because they have lost focus and are human, that will betray your trust, dislike you, misunderstand you, be cold to you for no apparent reason, obstinately and immaturely hold on to whatever grudge they feel they have against you and be fine with that.

I have also learned that I cannot afford to be thrown off track, derailed or demotivated when these things happen. I am called to humble myself, make myself of no reputation, still love them because love covers the multitude of sins, pray for them, bless them and place them and the issue, in the mighty hands of almighty God to handle.

Finally, I have learned that I need not suppress the excellence God has placed in me because of the insecurity of another or become self-conscious due to their behaviour. I am under no obligation to measure up to the standards of a self-righteous brother or sister operating with a spirit of condemnation or to withhold what God has placed in me for HIS glory because a brother or sister does not wish to be outshone. We shine for God’s glory, not our own.

JESUS is the standard and he has already confirmed in his Word, that I am accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6)

I will admit, not being accepted, understood or embraced by those who profess Christ and even some of your own family members, hurts but I have learned to forgive, keep focused and rest in the fact that my heavenly Father knows my name. NOBODY on the face of this planet can make me any less valuable in His sight or negate the relationship which I have with him and have had with him for years, even before I even met the difficult brother or sister.

God will deal with brotherly or sisterly opposition in his own time and as he sees fit. Their negative behaviour (and without providing me with a reason for same) is not an indictment against me but against them. God knows that I am imperfect and have made mistakes in life. I confess this to him all the time and he is working on me.

If a brother or sister perceives a flaw in me (and there are many), he or she is supposed to pray about it and still treat me with love because he or she should want to see me become better. He or she may even choose to approach me about the issue.

However, sustained negative and cold behaviour when deliberately meted out by a fellow brother or sister and who hardly even knows you and without any explanation is an indictment on that person, irrespective of who that person is, especially when he or she chooses to persist in the behaviour and childishly, without repentance.

There is no class system and no clique in the household of faith and the sooner those who profess Christianity realize that, the better. We are ALL sinners saved by grace. On Sunday morning, the congregation that gathers is a bunch of sinners, saved by grace. That is the meaning of a ‘saint’: A sinner saved by grace.

Those who feel that their gifts, talents, ability to articulate, position in the Church or years of service give them the right to stand in contempt of other brothers and sisters and of people in general, would do well to come off their high pedestal, humble themselves before God and repent.

Such behaviour reminds me of Diotrephes in the Bible, who is mentioned in 3 John: 9-10. He is desccribed as loving to have control over God’s people and preventing some, through malicious words against their character and other devices, from having fellowship with the Church, as if it belonged to him and not to Jesus. John states in his letter to Gaius:

  • “I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.”

On a final note, whether women are authorized by the Lord to occupy high leadership positions in the Church (which I have noted this particular lady has) is another issue which I will leave for now but address in detail with specific reference to the scriptures, in a future Article. It is clear that God prohibits this but like I said, it will be addressed in another one of my Notes.

(Written on 17th December, 2017)

ADDENDUM

In processing my pain over rejection and unexplained animosity from some Church members, some family members and certain people I experienced over the years, I also wrote the following snippets:

SNIPPET 1

If people had their way, if it was up to them to determine your value, your significance, your purpose, they would mark you down. Some would equate your value as not very much while some would boldly declare you to be worth nothing at all.

Yet, the beauty of life is that it is God, the one who created you and knows the reason why, that gets to determine our value, not friend, not family, not foe. I have God-given value and worth and significance, so much so that when Jesus died on the cross for sins, he saw it fit to include me on the list of those he died to offer salvation to.

Despite what people think or have said or how they feel about me, Jesus loves me and that is all that matters. Furthermore, in the wee hours of this morning, I believe he directed me to his Word where he promised to give me a future, something I could never do for myself.

As I read, I believe he gave me three words of what he would do in my life: HEALING, COMFORT and PEACE. I believe he said, although not audibly: Whereas some may have considered you desolate, I will give you a future. I will give you joy and gladness. I will bring you health and cure. I will cause your captivity to return. I will build you again, as at the first.

I believe him and am very excited because I have a God-given future that nobody can stop and it is GLORIOUS.

(Written on 24th May 2017)

SNIPPET 2

I’m thankful Lord, that despite how I feel, my status does not change. I am royalty, even when I feel like scum and on the days when the world screams at me that I am useless, insufficient, stuck, stupid and other derogatory terms, you are STILL my heavenly Father and you STILL sit as KING over the flood.

(Written on 20th January, 2018)

SNIPPET 3

Ours is a salvation that withstands the scrutiny of others, the unreliability of feelings, the seeming condemnation of even other ‘believers’ because it was not acquired in our own strength or based on what we earned but grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Once you are under his covering of righteousness, your feelings, what that sister thinks of you or how she frowns at you and how people may treat you, CANNOT remove you. You are covered by the blood. The blood of Jesus trumps all: It trumps your sometimes feelings of worthlessness and their doubt, suspicion, criticism and hostility toward you.

(Written on 8th February, 2018)

SNIPPET 4

There are people that EXPECT me to fail, THINK I will fail, HOPE I will fail, WANT me to fail, WILL me to fail, CONSIDER me as having already failed or are WAITING in eager anticipation for entertainment purposes, for news that I have failed.

Then there are those who are neutral and care not whether I succeed or fail…BUT GOD.

Defeat their expectations God. Overthrow the will of man in relation to my life, where it is founded in either wickedness or faithlessness. Keep me from failing even as you did for Jabez. Uphold me with the right hand of your righteousness, in Jesus’ mighty name, Amen.

(Written on 02nd June, 2018)

SNIPPET 5

Continue to love and pray for those that hate you or who you discern the devil is trying to use to derail and distract you from your PURPOSE and your desire to be SPIRITUALLY MATURE IN CHRIST, whether at work, home or otherwise. Don’t hate the person. Hate the spirit that is using that person. God’s got you in the palm of his hands and it is hard to kick against the pricks. Let God fight for you. He ALWAYS wins.

(Written on 5th June, 2018)

SNIPPET 6

It hurts to know that I’m so HATED yet comforting to know that I’m so LOVED. People may not LIKE you but Jesus LOVES you. People may WRITE YOU OFF but God WRITES YOU ON. People may NOT FORGIVE but God gives SECOND CHANCES. People may REJECT you but once you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, confessed him as Lord and asked him to come into your heart and save you, you are ACCEPTED in the beloved. You are then and there, on your way to SUCCESS as God defines it, even though people consider you to be a FAILURE. You are SET UP to receive every SPIRITUAL BLESSING, even though people try to DOWNGRADE and CURSE you. Finally, God does such a wonderful work in you that you emerge a VICTOR with a testimony, no longer a VICTIM of people’s opinions.

(Written on 6th September, 2018)

SNIPPET 7

When feeling condemned, ostracized, disliked, scorned, ignored and dismissed as having no value by a Church member, remember the following points:

1. He or she does not own the Church. The Church belongs to Jesus Christ;

2. He or she is not in control of the Church. The Church is controlled by Jesus Christ;

3. He or she did not die for your sins. Jesus did.

He or she therefore has no basis to hold anything against you and perpetually, as if you wronged him or her personally because he or she once sacrificed his or her life for you and shed his or her blood for you.

Only the Lord Jesus Christ qualifies in this regard. Only he has a right to have aught against you because you belong to him and he takes responsibility for you, having purchased you with his precious blood. Even when he has aught against you, once you come to Him and confess your wrong in genuine repentance, he does not keep throwing it in your face. Like with Peter, He forgives you and does not regard you in any lesser an estimation.

Romans 8:34 states, “Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”

1 John 1:8-9; 2:1-2 also states:

  • “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.  If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness…My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

4. He or she does not have all of the facts and does not know the whole story (maybe even certain unfortunate events that occurred in your childhood) but Jesus does.

Jesus knows your past, your mistakes, the wrongs done against you, the sins you committed, heard your prayer of repentance and knows your heart.

The earthly man or woman does not and often times, does not care to know it. He or she has limited facts and is therefore not in a position to say, as if he or she is God and has perfect wisdom, all who are saved and have God’s favour and are living right, from who are not.

There is no requirement in the Bible that says that to be accepted by God, you must first pass through the sifting meter or meet with the approval of any man or woman. They don’t hold the doors to salvation or God’s forgiveness or his favour and cannot keep you from it.

God is the one that metes out salvation, forgiveness and favour. If God has purposed to save you and he has, who can disannul his purpose and actions? Who dare cry that you do not belong and that you should not be in Christ’s Kingdom and dare try to kick you out? If you have messed up, sinned and come to God in repentance, who is he or she that has the gall to go dig up your sins where God has placed them in the depth of the sea, to try to bring them back to level accusations against you?

Undoubtedly, this is a work of the devil. Micah 7:18-19, states of God toward his repentant children:

  • “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.”

The devil on the other hand, wants you to pay and keep paying for your sins, even after you’ve been whipped by the Lord and have repented before him. In this regard, he mobilizes people who are proud and self-righteous, among others, to come after you, not to help you but to try to make you feel perpetually guilty, ashamed and stuck in life.

The self-righteous are people who have deluded themselves into thinking that they have no sin or have not sinned as much as somebody else and so are more deserving of God’s favour and that he is immensely pleased with them and their ‘works’, moreso than others. They displace or downplay the extent of God’s grace and elevate instead their own self-effort, achievements and conduct, forgetting that they are great sinners in God’s eyes and that the best of their works are as filthy rags in his sight.

Yes, the enemy uses the self-righteous to keep you suppressed, feeling guilty, ashamed and condemned, even after you have asked God for forgiveness and have repented, SO THAT YOU WILL STAY DOWN AND NOT SOAR TO THE LEVELS GOD WANTS YOU TO, FOR THE MIGHTY WORK HE WANTS YOU TO DO FOR HIS KINGDOM. Be not ignorant of the devil’s devices but declare the truth: “I shall not die but live, and declare the works of the Lord.” (Psalm 118:17).

If God has purposed to love you with an everlasting love, who dare think that he shouldn’t, simply because they don’t?

They were not there when God fought your battles for you and aggressively, against your enemies and fed and sustained you. He chastened you, yes, when you sinned against Him but they were not there in those many moments, when you poured out your heart to the Lord in repentance, weeping for your wrongs and did not see when God forgave you, let you know that he did and showered you with his mercy and love.

They have not a clue what your relationship with God is like and many times, they have many of their facts (derived mainly from gossip and borne from a heart of malice), all wrong, which is why, apart from discernment, when we don’t know enough of the facts, we ought not to pronounce judgment and condemnation on some and favour and blessing on others. This is not our show and we are not the Judge but God.

I have often found it to be ironical, that sometimes those that the self-righteous pronounce favour and blessings on and are sure are Christians are not even genuinely the Lord’s as they inaccurately think but are people that are still lost and are not living right, which only God sees. Such people on which they have pronounced blessings and favour upon and are so sure are saved, while considering you, a mere sinner saved by God’s wondrous grace, to not be, have one face in the public or in the Church and another behind closed doors or during the week. Yet, God sees everything and he knows.

5. He or she is not perfect but commits sins (maybe every day) as well.

Often times, such people do not spend time or enough time, dwelling on their own issues but ignore or gloss over it and focus (as Church police) on the perceived shortcomings of others, not to help them with whatever their issues may be (some going as far back as their childhood) or even to find out from them directly as to what they are going through and the truth about their story but simply to take a lofty position of condescension and self-righteousness.

Simply put, it makes them feel better and more spiritual and more deserving of God’s favour, in them taking the position that you are not of God, have no hope in Jesus, can make no worthwhile contribution to his Kingdom and are a complete write-off.

I have news for such people. Bottom line is if Jesus has saved you, no man can reverse that. If he has forgiven you of your many sins, no man can have an issue with that. If he places his favour upon you, no man can deny that and if he upholds you with the right hand of his righteousness, then guess what? Fight as they may, pout as they may, displeased as they may be, HE will keep you and no man can pull you down, as they may wickedly desire to do.

Having highlighted these very salient points, it is important to note that when treated badly by people in general (whether in the world or in the Church), we must not allow ourselves to cause their sin to make us sin. We must not grow bitter, resentful, vengeful, hateful or unforgiving.

We must remember that God’s Word says that vengeance is the Lord’s and he will repay, as he sees fit. We are called upon to not retaliate, leave everything in God’s hands and hold our silence, even as we obey God’s Word which states:

  • “Be not overcome of evil but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21);
  • “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8)
  • “I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44)
  • “…when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; BUT COMMITTED HIMSELF TO HIM THAT JUDGETH RIGHTEOUSLY.” (1 Peter 2:23)

As I close, I just want to remind you of two (2) more additional points:

1 – Remember, that PAUL was called and chosen by God and God gave him a mighty work to do which he did willingly, yet, maybe because of his past or due to envy as to how the power of Christ was resting upon him, there were people who had professed to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour, that did not like him and exerted their effort, trying to oppose and undermine him.

The fact of the matter is, that no matter who you are and how much God loves, has forgiven you and intends to use you, there are those right within the household of faith that just will not like you, no matter what you do. This is why you must keep your eyes on Jesus and not try to be a people-pleaser. For, you will never be liked by everybody, sadly, not even within the Church.

Paul set his heart on Jesus and despite how some felt about him, WAS STILL DETERMINED TO FULFILL THE PURPOSE FOR WHICH GOD HAD SAVED HIM, stating boldly in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

2 – Remember, that DAVID was treated despicably by Saul, yet the Bible states that he behaved himself wisely.

This tells me that no matter how badly you may be treated by your brothers or sisters or people in general, you do not have to stoop to their level, retaliate, become similarly malicious or behave poorly. You can still please God in your response, still do right and if you do, he will be pleased.

1 Peter 2:20 reminds us, “For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”

It is your responsibility, no matter how badly you are treated or how much you may be disliked, to love everyone, to treat them respectfully and kindly, especially those that have professed Christianity.

(Written in 2019 or thereabout and added to thereafter)

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