Thursday, August 30, 2012

Rejection and Taking Offense

Journal-keeping has historically been a significant part of Methodist Spirituality. Paul Wesley Chilcote has compiled the journals, memoirs, etc. of many Methodist Women of history in "Her Own Story: Autobiographical Portraits of Early Methodist Women." 219 years and 3 days ago, Grace Bennet experienced and wrote about what many of us have experienced in one way or another. She wrote:
When I came to live at C-----, I promised myself great pleasure amongst the people of God. I proposed to several to set up private meetings amongst the women for prayer and religious conference, but they all made excuses. This was a grief to me, yea, it hurt my spirit, and caused me to go mourning many days. The spirit that was amongst them was quite different to what I had been used to. There was such stiffness and shyness in their looks, as if they would say, 'Stand by, we are holier than you.' If I had not known in whom I had believed, and something of my own heart, I might have thought their religion all a delusion and been turned out of the way. But blessed be God, he kept me from taking offense. He knew my aim was right. Therefore I persevered in going amongst them to hear the gospel. Oh for the mind that was in Christ! If we are Christians we must act according to the rule laid down in his word.

I won't say that I have ever myself experienced people making excuses, nor have I ever felt it a grief to me, nor would I say such things hurt my spirit, causing me to mourn several days... wait... That is exactly what I have at times experienced! I presume Grace and I are not alone. I suspect this is fairly common. But blessed be God for the witness of Grace Bennet who reminds us that if we know in whom we believe, and know our own hearts... we need not take offense.

I sometimes feel that we live in a world filled with people just waiting to be offended. This is why we have something called "Political Correctness" in order to protect some from being offended--but of course there are others who are offended at the need for "political correctness." If you praise someone in the wrong way, you might offend them--if you say nothing, that may offend... Many of us, myself included, can at times be easily offended.

And if ever we wondered why so many of us are easily offended--it is perhaps found in Ms. Bennet's introspection; few of us really know in whom we believe, and something of our own hearts. If we are grounded in God--and know our hearts to desire nothing other to please and serve the God in whom we believe and to whom we have entrusted our hearts, then we can face rejection, being overlooked, being forgotten, being pushed away, etc... with perseverance.

So the next time you or I feel offended, let us take a step back and remember exactly who we are; what is our one desire; in whom do we believe, and live, and even have our existence. Oh for the mind that was in Christ!

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