Monday, August 17, 2015

Why Does God Reject People & Churches?

            The title “Why Does God Reject People & Churches?” presupposes God’s rejection of people.

            Imagine the dilemma of a child about to be killed or molested. Don’t you ever wonder where God is in those situations? Doesn’t the molestation or killing of a hapless child reveal the fact of God’s rejection of an innocent child?

            Then there are prayers that are rejected by God. Some pray for a better job to overcome their increasing debts, but not only do they not find a better job, but they could also be in a terrible situation in their present job that they could be imminently fired. Failure to get a better job or loss of the present job indicates God’s rejection of their prayers.  

            What about people dying of illnesses despite ardent prayers? Doesn’t this amount to rejection as well?

            Consider a church that defies and defiles God and HIS Word. If this church continues to grow in numbers despite its defilement of God, doesn’t it indicate a worldly growth, in contrast to the spiritual growth desired by God?

            If God does not bring this church back to its truthful worship of HIMSELF, then does it not amount to HIS rejection of this church by allowing it to continue in its sinful practices?

            A popular message in the Christian community is that God will never reject HIS people. Is that so?

            The Bible portrays instances of God’s rejection of HIS people, a few of which are here:

            1. God rejected King Saul (1 Samuel 15: 23, 16: 1).

            2. God rejected King Solomon by raising up adversaries against Solomon to destroy his kingdom (1 Kings 11).

            3. God rejected Paul’s prayer to remove the messenger of Satan from his life (2 Corinthians 12: 7-8).

            4. Those who reject the Lord Jesus will be eternally rejected by God (John 3: 36).

            We observe two categories of rejection by God:

            A. Temporal Rejection that need not necessarily entail a loss of salvation (1-3)

            B. Eternal Rejection that entails loss of salvation (4).

            There are two broad reasons for God’s rejection from within a temporal perspective:

            (a) In the case of King Saul and King Solomon, God rejected them because they consciously disobeyed God.

            (b) But Paul did not disobey God. Nevertheless, God rejected Paul’s prayer. Why?

            On one hand, we have heard of several instances of people abandoning God because of unanswered prayers. Then there are those, like Paul, who remain in the Lord even through unanswered prayers, and glorify HIM through their adversities (cf. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10).

            So the other reason God rejects our prayers is to display HIS glory through the suffering life although the precise reasons for God’s rejection of prayers, in this context, remains mysterious.

            We may not know the precise reason(s) for God’s rejection of our prayers although we strive to live our lives in obedience to God. But of this we are sure, that our allegiance is to God whether or not HE answers our prayers.

            The Bible teaches us that it is better to live in God’s presence than not, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked” (Psalm 84: 10, NIV).

            Apostle Paul conveys a similar message from his context, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength” (1 Corinthians 1: 25, NIV). At times, God’s plan for our lives may appear foolish and weak, but it is not so.

            God cannot be undermined under any circumstance; least of all during pain and suffering.

            Therefore, while God rejects us because of our disobedience to HIM, it is not true in all cases. There are people who strive to obey the Lord and please HIM in all that they do, but their prayers are also unanswered for mysterious reasons although that very situation could be used to glorify God.

            What type of disobedience would warrant God’s temporal rejection of us?

            In the case of King Saul, he disobeyed God by rejecting God’s Word and consciously denied his disobedience (1 Samuel 15: 13ff). King Solomon rejected God by not being fully devoted to God and followed other gods (1 Kings 11: 1-6). (Whether King Solomon repented is unknown, hence his eternal destiny will remain outside the scope of this article.)

            So disobedience to God and conscious denial of that disobedience and rejecting God’s Word and following other gods would merit God’s temporal rejection. This would then entail a loss of the Spirit’s anointing in the believer’s life.

            We can glorify God through our pain and suffering through the words of Job, “…At this, Job… fell to the ground in worship and said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised. In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing” (Job 1: 20-22, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            Thus far we have seen the temporal rejection of God. But God rejects people unto eternity as well.

            A good, merciful, gracious, loving and a just God cannot reject a sincere seeker or a genuine believer. However, God rejects those who reject HIS Son our Lord Jesus Christ, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (John 3: 36, NIV).    

            Christ conveyed the same message in HIS own words, “But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:33, NIV). So have no doubt, those who reject Christ will be eternally rejected by God.

            This draws us to another pertinent point.

            Would a Christian lose his salvation if he rejects Christ during persecution?

            Consider Christ’s words spoken in the context of persecution, ““Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved (Matthew 24: 9-13, NIV, Emphasis Mine).

            Obviously Christ did not mean that “those who stand firm to the end” will be saved from persecution. The verse clearly states that believers would be handed over to be persecuted and put to death. 

            Therefore, the term “saved” in Matthew 24:13 corresponds to eternal salvation. Our salvation is predicated on us remaining in Christ. So those who reject Christ during persecution will lose their salvation.

            But we are not done here.

            Those who reject Christ during persecution will have more chances of living than dying, for only those who stand firm with Christ will be put to death. So if those who reject Christ would live, then it is possible that they could earnestly repent and reinvite Christ into their lives.

            But here is the most important aspect for our consideration.

            Those who earnestly believe in Christ will not reject HIM. Those who earnestly believe in Christ will reject material life and not Christ.

            Therefore, the person who rejected Christ once amidst persecution, if he were to earnestly repent and believe in Christ again, would not reject Christ again amid persecution.

            Finally, what about churches that are cold and lukewarm? Would God reject these churches?

            God’s presence or HIS glory departed from the temple then (Ezekiel 9, 10, 11; cf. Deuteronomy 31: 17-18; Hosea 9: 12). Similarly, God’s presence can depart from the church now as well.

            God does not voluntarily depart from a life or from a church that sincerely worships HIM. God departs when the church refuses to genuinely worship HIM i.e. the church worships itself (its material benefits or its people or its achievements) than worship God.

            Westminster Shorter Catechism states that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy HIM forever. May we do just that by genuinely worshipping God and living in and with HIM alone.

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