November 26th, 2005

Reaching

Sifted like wheat

It's a crisp, sunny morning and I walked out my door to the smell of wood smoke from a neighbor's chimney. It felt pretty close to perfect.

Nothing hits me with quite the same sadness and anger as watching those who have professed love for Jesus reject and walk away from him. Nothing disturbed me in C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia quite as much as the following passage from The Last Battle:

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It's one thing for Christ to continue to be rejected by those who've never loved Him. Still terrible, considering the extent of the love He's extended, but nothing like the betrayal of those who've claimed to love Him. That's a deeply intimate rejection, the shunning of a spouse, not just a suitor. It's not just denying a belief system—it's spitting in the face of a Lover who suffered the Cross on behalf of His beloved. I've seen people justify rejecting Him because of their own pain and woundedness, but not one of them has ever suffered as He did for them. Not one. The arrogance of such a claim is stunning.

It's a level of self-absorption I refuse to coddle, plain and simple. I won't wrap it in flowery phrases like "a wandering on your journey"—if you're rejecting Jesus, then that's what you're doing, and it would be dishonest to pretend you're doing anything less. Is it offensive? Absolutely. Of course it is. You see, I'm learning to love Him above all else, and I watched you betray Him. I won't pretend I didn't (how could you respect me if I did?). I know who He is, and I know who you are, so I know who's wrong. Is it forgivable? Absolutely. In fact, I don't have another option. If there's no forgiveness for you, there's none for me, either. But let's not act as if there's nothing to forgive. That's simply untrue.

I've seen it too much. I'm tired of watching friends turn and fall. Not that they should keep up illusions for my sake—falseness from friends is even more abhorrent. But it makes me cry out, "How long, O Lord? How many?" Only He knows. In the parable of the sowers, Jesus prepares us for this reality as much as He can. As much as He can, because no words can fully ready us to see Him rejected, to see plants we believed were healthy wither and die.

There was surely pain in Peter Pevensie's voice when he spoke of his wayward sister. There was surely pain in Jesus' voice when he told Simon Peter he would deny Him. But the stage was always set for his restoration—from Jesus' prediction of the betrayal before His death, to the angel's specific instructions to tell Peter He had risen, to the risen Christ's thrice-repeated question to him: "Do you love Me?".

His grace is not diminished by anyone's rash and selfish refusal of it, nor is His authority. He still is who He is. And He alone knows when the hour of His favor will come to an end. "Seek the Lord while He may be found."