The event happened many years ago, but it left a picture in my mind that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. I was in church, walking up the side aisle when another church member, an older woman who had been so dear to my husband and me was walking towards me. I smiled and greeted her. She jerked her head up, her nose towards the ceiling and swiftly passed by without a word! It was an obvious rejection – not just of my greeting, but of me personally. I was bewildered! So what did I do? I followed her to inquire!
I asked, “Is there a problem that I don’t know about? Why wouldn’t you speak to me just now?”
“You’re married to him, aren’t you?” With that, she pointed an accusing finger in the direction of my husband.
“Yes, ma’am, I am,” I was proud to say.
Now I understood. She had a grievance with Dale, so she was also upset with me because we are one. Though it broke my heart that she was responding this way, I was fine with that Shaking my head in disbelief, I went on my way.
To my shame, I can’t say I turned and looked back at her with loving thoughts. I was more disgusted and angry that such actions and words could be demonstrated just before the church service began.
This week I read Mark 10 where a rich man came running to Jesus, asking Him how he might have eternal life. Jesus’ response was,
Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
These five commandments are the “horizontal laws” – the ones dealing with our relationships to people. Being a Jew, this man was very aware of them. In his actions he could say he had kept them all, but if he really looked at his heart, he would have seen that he fell very short of keeping them.
Jesus taught that if a man hated a brother, he had committed murder in his heart. If he lusted in his heart, he had committed adultery in his heart. Paul said in Philippians 3:5-6, he thought he had kept the law, but he realized he was sorely mistaken. If the rich man had really looked at his heart as Jesus knew it, he would have cried out,
There is no way I can keep the law; I need a Savior!
This man was basically, “Jerking his head up” and rejecting Jesus’ words. He was full of pride. Jesus’ response to him is so touching –
Then Jesus beholding him loved him…
He didn’t go chasing him down to grind his nose in his error. He loved him. His look on this man was one of compassion. He looked at this man who had filled his life with temporary riches, yet was so empty. Jesus’ next words were spoken to reveal to this man the truth of his heart.
One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.
The man’s response?
And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions
When a person rejects Jesus, the Son of God, what is our Savior’s response to them? He continues to look at them with love. It’s a perfect love. It’s a love that isn’t offended or based on our response. He continues to love that one who is blinded to their need of Him.
The person who says, “No” to Christ ultimately has the same reaction as the man in this story. They, too, have only grief. Perhaps today they may think they can just go back to the “riches” of this life, but ultimately, the only response will be grief. When the judgment day comes (and it will!), there will be great weeping. A person who rejects Christ misses out on the joy now and the joy in eternity of being with the Lord because they have been made righteous by His death on the cross. Like the rich man in this story, they don’t see themselves as needing a Savior.
Friend, if this story in Scripture describes you because you think you’ve done enough on your own to go to heaven, know that Christ is looking your way with compassion. He loves you and is telling you that this world has nothing to offer you. Turn from your sin and receive Christ, rather than going your own way with a saddened heart.
Jesus never “chases us down to reprimand us” like I did the woman who snubbed me. He lovingly pursues those He loves. Ultimately the decision is ours. Will we receive Him and turn away in sorrow? You can go here for details about what it means to receive Christ for salvation.
For those of us who know Christ as Savior, may we allow Christ to love those that reject us. We cannot do it in our flesh, but we can through His Spirit that lives in us. My response to the woman at church was wrong. If it were not for the love of Christ shed abroad in my heart, I, too, am just as capable of rejecting those my Savior loves so deeply. Let’s reflect the love of Christ to those who hurt us.