A young soldier had finished his tour of duty in Vietnam, and was flying back to the United States. As soon as he landed he telephoned his parents. They were delighted when he told them he was on his way home.
He asked them if it was alright to bring someone home. Their reply was,"Any friend of yours son, is welcome here." But the young man said, "He only has ONE ARM and ONE LEG; he was wounded in the war."
The attitude of the parents changed, "Well, he can stay a day or two, but he couldn't possibly stay any longer - he would be too much of a burden for us."
A few days later they received another phone call. This time from the POLICE - they wanted the parents to formally identify a body. It was the body of a young man who had jumped from the top floor of a skyscraper. He had one ARM and one LEG. The parents confirmed it was indeed their son.
The soldier had known that civilian life would be difficult, but his parents' attitude had made him feel so REJECTED that he had taken his own life. He felt they had rejected him, and that his father and mother didn't love him. But had the boy's parents really rejected their son, or had they rejected the idea of caring for a disabled stranger?
When emotions are involved, it is often difficult to see a situation impartially. Appearances can be deceptive. Feelings can blind us, so we need to see the FACTS clearly. With only part of the story we can come to a wrong conclusion.
Without all the facts, even Abraham could be accused of rejecting his son Isaac. If all we knew about Abraham was that he took his son Isaac to a far mountain to kill him, we might think that he had rejected Isaac.
But if ever there was a man who wanted a son, that man was Abraham. Yet Abraham was prepared to sacrifice his son, in obedience to God, because he believed that God could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). Abraham believed God to be faithful when he promised him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand of the seashore.
No one wants to feel rejected, whether it is by a stranger or a close friend. Perhaps even worse, is when people feel that God has rejected them.
If all we knew about Israel at the time of the prophet Hosea was what is recorded in Hosea 9:17, we would assume that Israel was doomed.
"My Elohim will reject them, for they did not hearken to Him, and they shall become wanderers among the nations."
But this is how the story continues in the Good News version of Hosea 11:8-9:
"How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you? Could I ever destroy you as I did Admah, or treat you as I did Zeboi-im? My heart will not let Me do it! My love for you is too strong. I will not punish you in My anger; I will not destroy Israel again. For I am God and not a human being. I, the Holy One, am with you. I will not come to you in anger."
If all we knew about Israel in the first century AD, was that the entire people shouted to Pilate, "Let Him be crucified, and let His blood be on US and on our children!", we might think that God must reject the nation permanently. But is this the case? What did Paul say? Romans 11:1-2:
"I am saying, then, "Does not God thrust away His people? May it not be coming to that! ... God does not thrust away His people whom He foreknew."
"For I am not willing for you to be ignorant of this secret, brethren ... that callousness in part, on Israel has come, until the complement of the nations may be entering. And thus all Israel shall be saved."
"For God locks up all together in stubbornness, that He should be merciful to all."
When Paul wrote these words, he was so overwhelmed by what God was doing, he continues,
"O the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How inscrutable are His judgements and untraceable His ways!"
If all we knew about Christ when He was crucified was that He cried out, "My God! My God! Why didst Thou forsake Me?", we might think that His sacrifice was not accepted. But Hebrews 1:3 tells us that Christ today is "seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heights."
Our minds are too dull to picture the glory which Christ Jesus now has. One day we shall see Him as He is. Oh yes, God has accepted His sacrifice. Thanks be to God!
If God hasn't permanently rejected Israel, what about the rest of the world? Has God rejected the world today? Some might think so because of the evil that has been and is being done. Surely God must reject individuals because of the evil he or she has done. They will supposedly be punished in an eternal hell fire. It is sad that the truth of conciliation has not been generally understood or taught.
We know the true end of the story. Or rather, the end of the beginning of the story: that God will be ALL in ALL.
In Britain there is a government agency called ACAS - Arbitration Conciliation Advisory Service. Part of its job is to bring together two opposing parties, usually workers and bosses, and help them come to an agreement. I knew a man in London who worked for ACAS as a clerk. He was not very interested in his job; it was boring paper work. But what could be more rewarding than bringing two antagonistic people together to end a dispute?
You will notice that the agency is NOT called ARAS: Arbitration REConciliation Advisory Service. The fact that it is called ACAS tells you that the agency knows the difference between conciliation and reconciliation.
Conciliation is the first step in getting a dispute settled. One party always has to be willing to pull down the barrier separating the other. WE have not pulled the barrier down between us and God. GOD has.
The proof is in 2 Corinthians 5:18-19:
"Yet all is of God, Who conciliates us to Himself through Christ, and is giving us the dispensation of the CONCILIATION, how that God was in Christ conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offenses to them, and placing in us the word of the Conciliation"
What greater message could we feeble, weak human beings have than this (verse 20):
"For Christ, then, are we ambassadors, as of God entreating through us. We are beseeching for Christ's sake, 'Be conciliated to God!'"
This job we have in God's conciliation service is not uninteresting routine. It is not an unpaid, lowly position either.
In Ephesians 3:9 Paul says that a secret has been concealed from the eons in God and the secret is to be made known to the celestials through the ecclesia. That's US!! Surely we can't be good enough!
Thankfully the evangel is not concerned with the sinner at all, but with God's attitude towards the sinner, and with the sufferings of Christ. He has placed in us, not the message of judgement, but the word of CONCILIATION.
Nevertheless, while we are in this flesh we shall feel rejected at times, with or without good cause. There may be times when we might even feel that GOD has rejected us. Our feelings can fool us. Our feelings of rejection may not be based on facts, but feelings can influence the way we look at the facts. Feelings may affect what we think of God. We may feel unable to return God's love, we may be sullen towards him or feel hurt.
So what are the FACTS? The message we have for others is the message we have for ourselves.
"We are beseeching for Christ's sake, be conciliated to God!"
Why can we be confident in saying this? Ephesians 3:12-13 reads:
"In Christ Jesus we have boldness and access with CONFIDENCE through HIS faith, wherefore I am requesting you not to be despondent at those of my afflictions for your sake which are your glory."
Look again at what it says in 2 Corinthians 5:19:
"God was in Christ, conciliating the world to Himself, not reckoning their offences to them, and in placing in us the word of the conciliation."
The problems mankind faces are there because ALL is of God, in accordance with His purpose.
Remember all EVIL is TEMPORARY.
For the believer, this is the only time we shall experience DEATH, pain and suffering. All the bad things we experience are a light affliction compared with the life ahead.
This is what Romans 8:18 says:
"For I am reckoning that the sufferings of the current era do not deserve the glory about to be revealed for us."
Isn't it wonderful when two friends come together and settle their differences and are reconciled? When they no longer have anything against each other? It's even more wonderful when one of the two parties is GOD. He won't let us down. He is faithful; we can trust what He has said.
Read Genesis 18:25:
"The judge of the entire earth, will He not execute judgement?"
and Romans 8:38-39:
"For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor messengers, nor sovereignties, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus, our Lord."
When God says He is conciliated, all we have to do is accept that, and be reconciled. God has not rejected us: only a FOOL would reject HIM!
Therefore we implore you on Christ's behalf: be conciliated to GOD.
Praise be to God for the richness of His grace!
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© James Johnson