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:
"Sire," said Tirian, when he had greeted all there, "if I have read the chronicles aright, there should be another. Has not your Majesty two sisters? Where is Queen Susan?"
"My sister Susan," answered Peter shortly and gravely, "is no longer a friend of Narnia."
"Yes," said Eustace, "and whenever you've tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says, 'What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.'"
"Oh, Susan!" said Jill. "She's interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up."
"Grown-up, indeed," said the Lady Polly. "I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she'll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea is to race on to the silliest time of one's life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can."
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."