rejected by men, approved by God

Our world today is very much a product of globalization—sometimes for good, and sometimes for bad.  Nonetheless, as believers we are called “not to be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” Romans 12:12.  If we become complacent, the culture of today’s media-soaked world can contort the foundations upon which our faith is built.  All too quickly, fear will begin to look like “wisdom,” and our personal experiences will speak louder than the Holy Spirit.

Our team began transitioning into the Middle East this year, but due to politics, governments, and the nature of our career, within a month we were banned from the country we were planning to live in and suddenly our whole plan took a massive turn. Rather than abandoning the assignment we had been given by God because of a minor detour, our response was this: He always keeps His promises, and when we are rejected by the world, it is merely assurance that there is still work to be done. 

We may not have lived in this region very long, or fully understood the complexities of such an ancient and rich culture; but if there’s one thing we’ve learned in our short experience, it’s that the promises of God will always trump the politics of man. Such a simple realization can hold incredible weight in a region torn apart by the treachery of geopolitics.

As carriers of the Gospel, we should not be surprised when we encounter some adversity, nor should we even be discouraged. Jesus certainly warned us not to be taken captive by the philosophies, traditions, and elementary principles of this world. These principles can often sound like “do not impose your beliefs on someone else,” or “those people are not interested in hearing your Gospel.”

When Paul first entered Corinth in Acts 18, he preached in synagogues for weeks, trying to persuade the Jews, but was always met with rejection.  Eventually, he left the synagogue and went next door to the home of Titius Justus where he personally encountered Crispus, the leader of the synagogue.  Crispus and his entire household became believers that day.  As a result, many Corinthians heard the testimony and also believed. That evening, the Lord speaks to Paul and encouraged him to continue in boldness, for “I have many in this city who are my people.” 

This story is counter to worldly logic. Paul preached the Gospel in the synagogue for weeks. Surely he tried to reason with their immense knowledge of the law, in addition to demonstrating signs and wonders. Just when he was convinced they were not going to receive the message, the leader of the synagogue believed in Christ, as did many other Corinthians. How? God’s promises put to shame the earthly politics of Corinth.

We must be careful not to be taken captive by diversions that the world labels as, “not God’s will.”  Proverbs tells us that a righteous man falls seven times, but gets up every time (24:16). Our success as believers is demonstrated through the persistence of our hope. A change of plans doesn’t mean that God somehow changed His mind. Let us not be mistaken. If we want to see the fullness of what God has promised, we can’t let the circumstances, adversities, or the politics of this world affect what He has called us to do: “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation,” Mark 16:15.