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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Exchange of Ownership

He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care. Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins!  
What does it mean to be despised? It means that we have more than a little "bad feeling" toward someone - it carries the idea of feelings of deep contempt - finding the individual or their actions so disdainful that we simply cannot tolerate them. To look at someone with disdain is to regard them or their actions as 'unworthy' of our focus or attention. There have definitely been times people have looked down their nose at me, or brushed me off as though my opinion or idea didn't matter - they just didn't see me as "worthy" of their focus or attention. To couple this with such feeling of "ill-will" that you actually want to bring harm to another or see them suffer in some painful way is quite a different matter. Many viewed Christ in just this way - wanting nothing more than to discount his words, or find reasons for his amazing actions apart from their true meaning or origin. Part of rejecting someone is this idea of "turning one's back" on them. We don't face them because we don't see them as worthy of our focus, attention, or time.
What comes next is oftentimes the hardest thing for us to deal with in life - we stop caring about that other individual. The rejection part is made easier because we no longer interact, have time with, or even frequent the places where the one we have rejected goes. In some cultures, when a family member or member of their community "crosses the line" between what they will tolerate and what is clearly something they cannot or will not tolerate, they reject that member. There is an absolute "cutting off" of that person from fellowship with their family, friends, and neighbors. They are as the "unseen" - no longer noticed, acknowledged, or given any attention. As Christ walked this earth, he was rejected in such a manner by some you would never have expected to have rejected him: the religious!
Maybe this is why God puts such a value on relationship and really doesn't focus on our "religious" pursuits as much, for he often declared the sacrifices didn't matter as much as the heart of the one who was bringing those sacrifices. He realizes far better than we do that "religious pursuits" are not something that we can rely upon to always give us clear thinking and upright actions. We can follow all the rules and clearly miss the point or place of grace in our lives! We can adhere to all the testaments of a religion's doctrine and miss totally the connection which comes only when there is an exchange of "ownership" of one's life. I think it is this exchange of "ownership" thing that gives so many the real "hang up" when it comes to following Christ. 
It is when we exchange our sin for his grace - admitting our "ownership" of our lives hasn't yielded much in the way of truly making us "righteous" - that we come to the place of recognizing it wasn't his sins he carried to the cross, but ours (and they were weighty sins to boot)! We might want to believe we are pretty "good" people, not really doing much that is "bad" or "unrighteous" in the course of our lives. Sure, we tell the occasional "white lie", but let me ask you this - is a white lie any less an untruth than another type of a lie? Anytime there is a degree of untruth, no matter how small, it is still not truth! Even the small things we discount as not mattering add to the weight of what he took to the cross on our behalf!
We can turn our backs on Jesus all we want, but he still pursues us. His heart yearns for us - that rejection doesn't dissuade his love, nor does it diminish his abundant grace. Just sayin!