Cut off the head of religion!

“And the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.’” I Samuel 8:7-8

These important verses in Samuel reveal how the Israelites rejected God. I have been reminded of these verses many times when I have felt rejected. In Steven Keillor’s book, God’s Judgments, he writes, “Jesus’ dialogues with Pharisees and Jewish leaders stressed judgment. That many poor people, Galileans and despised Samaritans accepted him while the leaders and self-righteous guardians of religion rejected him was mishpat, a great reversal.” The ones who should have easily accepted Jesus harshly rejected him and the “least” of the people gladly accept and followed him. We may think it is different today, but it really isn’t. In my experience as I have visited and interacted with many different churches and leaders, I have found the same principles apply. Some people accept you and some don’t, and honestly it is usually the people you do not expect who do not accept who you are. But I have found something even more startling. Remember what God said to Samuel. It isn’t Samuel who was really rejected, it was God. This is a very scary idea. When I find myself in a situation where I am receiving a form of rejection (being ignored, marginalized, lack of respect, people pretending like I don’t matter, etc.), the Holy Spirit often reminds me of these verses in Samuel. While many might find comfort in the fact you are not being rejected, I find it quite disturbing. Yes, it does lift the weight of rejection, but it also angers me.

Do you remember the story of David and Goliath? Have you ever wondered why it took David to defeat the giant when all the fighting men were already at the battle? Listen to this: “And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. . .Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head.” I Samuel 17:42-43, 45-46

These are very strong words for someone facing a giant. What compelled David? What was it that made him face this giant? It is very simple, the Philistine had insulted his God. David took this very serious! When we “reject” someone, although of course we would never call it that, it is possible we are rejecting the manifestation of Jesus. This is hard to take, but very often this is what happens and we should not be surprised. This happened to the prophets, it happened to Jesus, should we be exempt? When someone worships a little different or prays in a way you do not like, we automatically assume arrogance or some other sin, which demonstrates the sad state of the church, but in reality it is possible we are rejecting the King. That is very scary, but I see this all the time. And just like in Samuel’s day, there are consequences. I find it frightening how easily people reject someone with little thought of who they may be representing. When acting on God’s behalf, we do not need to worry about rejection, however we may need to consider sharpening our sword to take down a giant. The spirit of religion is the most formidable giant in our land. It ruins lives every day. I think it may be time to stop making a big deal about our perceived rejection and get very serious about the rejection of the Most High God. Get serious about the kingship of Jesus and cut off the head of religion!

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