Monday, January 6, 2020

Facing Rejection Like Alien Abductees

Suggested Reading: Luke 2:25-35

In the late 90’s Will Smith starred in a movie called Independence Day. In this movie, aliens invaded Earth on July 2, wiping out major cities and claiming the planet for themselves. As the movie began, the audience was introduced to a father, a drunkard who couldn't hold down a steady job because he constantly flew his crop-duster over the wrong fields. His children were ashamed of him and they cringed whenever he mentioned his own “alien abduction” several years earlier. But on July 4, as the militaries of earth were striking back against the alien invaders with whatever pilots happened to be left, this drunkard of a father found himself sobered up and sitting in the cockpit of a state-of-the-art fighter jet, streaking toward an alien vessel. Out of missiles, the squadron’s leader called the retreat, but this father had one missile left and fired it, only to discover that it was jammed. Taking a last look at the picture of his children he had taped to the console, this father took aim at the primary weapon of the alien ship, radioed a message to his children, and crashed his plane into the alien vessel, destroying the vessel and eliminating the threat. This father knew he would die, but he flew into the enemy vessel anyway in order to save his children.

Yesterday, we looked at Simeon, an elderly man who prophesied over the child Jesus as his parents brought him into the temple complex to be redeemed as the firstborn child of his family. Having announced that Jesus had come to upset destiny, Simeon continued declaring that Jesus had come to be a sign that will be spoken against (Luke 2:34, NIV). Jesus had come as the Savior of the world, to save the world from itself, yet he would be spoken against. He would be rejected. Having read the rest of the story, we know that Jesus’ rejection would lead to his torture and to his death. The Holy Spirit had revealed these things to Simeon, thus Jesus would also have known these things since his Spirit had revealed them to Simeon. Yet Jesus came anyway. Jesus knew he would be rejected, tortured and killed, but Jesus also knew that his rejection and death were necessary in order to save us. So Jesus came anyway, knowing he would be rejected.

We have heard this story over and over again. The idea that Jesus had knowingly come to die is not new to us. The idea of sacrifice like the father from Independence Day is not new to us. And yet while we often aspire to maintain an attitude of self-sacrifice, being willing to lay down our lives if necessary, I wonder how often we are willing to be rejected. Torture and death are one thing. We can steel ourselves against them, knowing there will be an end to them. But rejection is different and hurts on an entirely different level. Rejection is something that hurts our hearts.

Are we willing to be rejected? Are we willing to do what is necessary to help people, even knowing those people won’t understand and will turn on us? Are we willing to help people who will never thank us for stepping in to save the day? Are we willing to risk broken hearts as willingly as we risk broken bodies? Are we willing to step out on a limb for someone, knowing they will probably chop it off behind us? Jesus was. Jesus did. And he calls us to follow his example.

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