There once was a man who lived in South Florida who was rejected multiple times for employment and vocation, though he tried and tried, and never quit. Politics, pettiness, progressivism, and poor circumstances, not to mention his own sin, got in the way time and again. He suffered (suffers) long term unemployment with a seemingly permanent vocational blacklisting. He spent most of his life wrestling with God in his anger. His neighbor, moreover, no longer resembled the poor Jesus, but the attacking Pharisee and Roman Centurion, ever-ready to nail him to the Cross. He waffled in self pity (medicated by sexual misbehavior) and self-righteousness (expressed in outward bursts of anger and physicality).
He lived his life in vigilant anger, fear, and virulent prayer.
Then God answered his prayer, and gave him direction for his life.
"After threatening them further, they released them, finding no way to punish them, on account of the people who were all praising God for what had happened." Acts 4:13-21
Lesson number one is an obvious lesson many of us seem to miss. You would think that the Sanhedrin, in the Pharisees, the elders, and the scribes, would be joyful that the people of Jerusalem were praising God for the miracle worked through Peter and John, in the merciful healing of the lame man in the grace of the Risen Christ.
All they could do was to competitively reject the apostles miraculous activity. Lesson number one, the foundational lesson of the mature Christian life, is that every Tom, Dick, and Harry, not to mention every Betty and Jane, is fighting a turf war similar to a dog marking their territory. Life is not complicated. If you express a desire to do something special, or if you show signs of certain abilities, you will either become a hot commodity, or you will be nailed to a Cross. You will either become a utilitarians tool, or you will be a dart board for the social elites.
"My strength and my courage is the LORD, and he has been my savior." Psalm 118:1, 14-21
Lesson number two is that God has a fool proof barometer for genuine saintliness. True saints don't know that they are saints! True saints see their sinfulness more clearly than the puffed up Pharisee (who usually is being lauded for their parish activities). True saints know, with a rock solid certainty, that every good thought and deed which proceeds from them comes solely through the grace of God. True saints, more often than not, suffer rejection at the hands of more powerful Church 'leaders.'
It's as if God perfects His saint with the whip of His sinners pride.
"But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, 'Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.'” Mark 16:9-15
Finally, the third and most important lesson is exemplified in the Risen Jesus. Instead of rejecting His disciples for their lack of faith, He reinforced their faith through His Presence, and recommissioned them to spread the Good News. Jesus rebuked, but then forgave! Lesson number three: Jesus always forgives, but Churchmen, and women, very often don't.
Thoughts? Feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com