by Pastor Mark Jordan
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, MSG)
Rejection hurts. We all want to be accepted and loved for who we are. Jesus followers are called to love others unconditionally, but with somewhat of a catch. We aren’t called to condone sin and destructive behavior, but help people learn to live into the future with hope God planned. This can come through constructive criticism, which can hurt at the time, but is meant to build up, not tear down.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, we read that God doesn’t set us up for a painful rejection, but salvation through Jesus. God desperately wants you as a part of his forever family, and gave Jesus so you can be received. From that point, God begins molding and shaping you into something far closer to the image of Christ than the you before, filling cracks, rounding edges, and setting you up for eternity. This does require transformation, though, and God uses his family — the Church — to help accomplish that task.
Many years ago I read a quote by Max Lucado that sticks with me today: “God loves you just the way you are, but He refuses to leave you that way. He wants you to be just like Jesus.” God is doing a mighty work in you, and promises to be faithful to see it though to completion (Philippians 1:6), calling on others to help in the task by building you up to show just where you belong. Then you have the responsibility to help others by doing the same. So may we all speak encouraging words to help build others up, and fending off the sting of rejection, so no one is left behind, and everyone knows there is a place for them.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for making a place for me in your family. I know I belong, but I also know that means you want to transform me to be more like Jesus. Please forgive me for the times I resist, either by offering destructive words to others, or mistaking constructive criticism for something worse. Help me to know I belong so I can share that good news with others. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.