RESPECTED AND REJECTED ...AND FOLLOWING
I continue to see myself in each and every episode of The Chosen in deep and impactful ways, especially so this week.
Nicodemus was highly respected. He was widely-travelled, had a wealth of experience, and was well educated. He had a highly-esteemed career with influence over a multitude of people, from the common citizen to governmental leaders. The creative license taken in the series implies that he was wealthy and had a respectable family, which was probably true. He was doing good work. I have had seasons in my life where this was true of myself. I had a God-fearing, well-grounded family and a rising career. I was looked up to by those I worked with and lived around. I was going places, and I thought highly of myself.
In contrast, Matthew was rejected. He was rejected by his family for his career path, ostracized by his tribe and labelled a a traitor to his people. He wasn’t even worth anything to his employer, the Romans, beyond the service he could provide. He was not merely isolated and ignored, but actively despised by those around him. He was utterly alone. I have also had seasons in my life where I could perfectly relate to Matthew. I have lost a career and a house because of poor choices. I have been rejected by friends. I’ve been unable to pay rent and put food on my family’s table. I hated myself.
These two men were seemingly polar opposites in the eyes of religious leaders, of society, and even of themselves; opposites in character, opposites in purpose, opposites in worth. But both Nicodemus and Matthew had one thing in common – they both had a deep need for the truth and the grace that comes from a relationship with Jesus. They may not have been aware of this need or at least of its answer, both for their own reasons; but they were both searching for that missing element in their life. Both men had encounters with Jesus that changed their lives, and they each ultimately had a choice, which is summed up in our key question for the series: What will you DO when He CHOOSES you?
They could reject Jesus as a fraud or novelty, or because of their own pride or shame. Or, they could believe him. They could believe that Jesus was who he said he was; that the strange things he was saying had some deep truth that called to them; or that Jesus really was calling them into relationship. Throughout my seasons of being both respected and rejected, I absolutely believed in Jesus as exactly who he said he was – full of love and forgiveness, light and freedom. I genuinely believed I had a need for him and that he could change my life. And I even had faith in the salvation he offers – I put action to my trust… sometimes. But more often than not, I was content with the status quo and it was easy to rest in the comfortable. I believed with my head but not my heart, and this did not make me a follower of Jesus. And that is what The Chosen is all about – showing us how Jesus came to make us followers, because that is when our lives really change. I know because when I became a follower, my identity no longer rested in what I thought of myself or what others thought of men but in what Jesus thought of me. That perspective makes all the difference!
But do you know what the really amazing thing in all of this is? The fact that Jesus wants to make followers out of both the respected and the rejected! He doesn’t discriminate or play favorites. He offers the very same life changing relationship to everyone. He said of himself in Luke 19:10 that he “came to seek and save the lost.” And John 1:12 says, “to all who receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
So the question remains, wherever you are on the spectrum of being accepted by yourself or those around you: What will you do WHEN he chooses you? He chooses the rejected. He chooses the respected. He chooses the athlete and the bookworm, the famous and the seemingly insignificant. He chooses the red, yellow, black and white. He chooses those who have it all together and those who have nothing. He chooses YOU.