The gap between the Old Testament scriptures and New Testament scriptures is one that has often been commented on. The silence of God. Four hundred years where there were no prophetic words, no mighty men of God, no David's nor Abraham's, and the jewish people were just left to wait.
Their expectations were mounting, their patience trying, and their image of what their Saviour would look like were being moulded. Their people were being subdued, and their frustrations were simply ever-growing.
Then in steps Jesus. And along with Him He brings salvation to all people, and freedom from sin and death and the start of a new Kingdom, and there is an almost collective sigh of frustration from the leaders and rabbis of the jewish nation. Their sights were firmly set on an establishment of an earthly kingdom with them at the realms! They had been dreaming about this for years! They had had meetings about it, and had been encouraging each other with this idea. Their cell groups included this theme repeatedly. This simply could not be the Messiah! Jesus is rejected, because He didn't do what they expected Him to do.
Cue 2000 years of Jesus falling short of people's earthly expectations of Him and all the rejection He faces because we are looking to our own desires and at Him to fulfil them.
It is a common theme in life, isn't it? That gap where you are able to build expectations based on your own desires and understanding of the world? That holiday period in the summer, where you plan on how your new season at work is going to guarantee a promotion, as well as the best quality work the world has yet to see. That time away from the one person you've had your eye on, where you plan every last detail of the glorious moment you're going to sweep them off their feet in a moment of unrivalled romance. The moments before the match starts and you can almost feel the reactions of everyone around you as you single-handedly demolish the opponents.
Then reality hits you square in the motivational panel, oh so much faster than you'd wanted, and suddenly everything deflates like the Hindenburg, seemingly equal in disaster, too. Your boss hands back your first assignment with all-new levels of mistakes. You fail the first test of the year. Rejection is handed down on a silver platter by that special (not anymore) one. What is your first response? "Ay, ay, a scratch, a scratch; marry, 'tis enough."? Yeah, me neither. I pretty much concede defeat and relinquish all desire to try again.
However, living in a slum and working with people who's very upbringing is programmed for disappointment demands a very different response. I can't be like the Jewish nation who reject the truth laid out before them. I can't be like my old self in my offices and slip into non-responsiveness. I need to rise up and meet the challenge and show that in the face of disappointment I will choose to continue loving with fervor.
A kid who, just last year, took an entire week of reflection before he'd decided to give his life to God is now selling drugs. Another who, just three months, ago told me how he avoids bad influences because of how it is a sure path to destruction now hangs out with drug dealers and night crawlers. Another who had brought so many of his friends to church for the first time in their lives now wants nothing to do with Christians at all because he's found drugs.
My response? Run! Run as far as you can, because these guys are lost. They're past hope. You've tried, Gav, and there's nothing more you can do.
God's response? Love. Love as much as you can, because these guys are mine. I am their hope. You'll try, Gav, and that's all I'm asking you to do.
Maybe all these disappointments are so crushing in defeats because of our attitudes towards them. We see them through our world view, and we don't stop to consider what God is doing. If the whole Jewish nation saw the world the way that God did, then Jesus's arrival wouldn't have been disappointing. It would have made sense. A change in perspective could have saved their lives. Maybe we should be looking at everything going wrong in our lives, and think, "what does this failure look like from God's angle?" In the end, He's in control, and He's working every moment here on earth for a global, eternal purpose. He will use today to get someone's attention, and doing that may require a path on which you face disappointment. So let's continue with love.