Before we go any further with this “Misfits & Rejects” series, I just wanted to clarify that “rejects” in the title is not referring to rejection from God, which I’ll elaborate on in a minute, but it refers to those people that are rejected by men, our society and culture. Those who may not have been chosen, considered, or given opportunities to do great things for God or humanity. Maybe they didn’t have it all together, made mistakes, didn’t look the part, or weren’t popular. Maybe they were underdogs or didn’t measure up to humanities “standards” but somehow found a path to redemption and even glory. Those are the stories that we love to hear because we can relate, and they give us hope.
My dad was one of those characters. He had a lot going for him, but he gave alcoholism an opportunity to destroy his potential and future. He lost almost everything, including his family. Many had given up on him and walked away. He had even given up on himself thinking that life was no longer worth living. Thankfully he was unsuccessful in his attempt to take his own life. Miraculously, he was able to break the chains of addiction. He put his life and family back together. This all happened before I was born. In fact, I wouldn’t exist today if he had given up. While my father didn’t become a Christian until many years later, God hadn’t given up on him or rejected him. God had a plan for my father. It was a long shot and took many years. It was a difficult path that led through the valley of the shadow of death, but in the end, it led to redemption!
Most of us who have attended church, Sunday school, vacation Bible school, confirmation, catechism, etc. know about most of the major Bible characters. We know of their great faith, heroic deeds, and service for God. However, it’s also helpful to know that they didn’t always have their act together or fit the mold of human expectations. They weren’t always the cream of the crop or voted most likely to succeed. They made mistakes and took missteps along the way. While we don’t celebrate their flaws or sins, we can take comfort and receive encouragement in the fact that despite their imperfections God didn’t give up on them even including them in carrying out His will. He allowed them to be a part of His/story. He was patient with them and provided opportunities for redemption, reconciliation, and forgiveness. However, God never condoned their sin. There were consequences and discipline, even for the heroes of faith.
“7Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 8Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” Galatians 6:7 NIV
The good news of this series is that despite their failures and ours there is hope, redemption, and forgiveness if we ask for it through confession and repentance, if we are willing to be honest with ourselves and God.
8If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. 10If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us. 1 John 1:8-10 NIV
We are all misfits when it comes to faith. We’ve all missed the mark and failed to measure up to God’s standard of purity and holiness.
“23for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:23-24 NIV
Verse 23 is a popular memory verse, but the story doesn’t end there because verse 24 says that we can be “justified freely” by God’s grace and redemption through Christ. The Bible gives us multiple examples of those who fell short of the Glory of God, some who were willing to confess their sins to God, repent, and seek redemption, and some who were not. However, this series focuses on those who chose redemption, those who didn’t reject God.
35Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:35-40 NIV
Since the beginning God has given us a choice. We can choose to accept, believe, come to, or reject God, but He never rejects us or drives us away. Another translation of this passage, the New American Standard Bible (NASB), Jesus says, “the one who comes to Me I certainly will not cast out.” He will never reject us, drive us away, or throw us out if we come to Him in repentance. That’s a promise!
“9The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NIV
As we continue to look at these Biblical characters and their stories of redemption and transformation, I just wanted to make sure that we remember that God never gave up on them. He didn’t reject them or stop loving them. He didn’t love their sin, but He loved them, just as He loves us. His RELENTLESS love will NEVER stop pursuing us!
Last week, we took a rather detailed look at Noah, one of the Bibles most famous characters. My original intention was just a brief peek, but it just kept growing. The Lord must have wanted it that way. Anyway, in the weeks to come we’ll look at some other colorful characters from God’s word and their stories of redemption. Some will be brief, while others, the ones that I connect with for whatever reason or the ones the Lord wants me to elaborate on may take up more space. If there is a person from the Bible that especially inspires or encourages you in your walk with the Lord, please share that with me by sending me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a great weekend! Love y’all!
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Coordinator – Andrews UMC