REJECTED by society at seemingly every turn, what is God’s will for society’s outcast? What steps to live a reasonable life are applicable, especially for those with, say, high functioning autism?
There is such a range of comorbidity (presence of multiple disorders, syndromes, or diseases) within the range of social situations faced in any society, so it’s impossible to suggest easy ways to solve complex problems. But there is a biblical response that should always help.
Jesus tells the parable of the sheep and the goats: ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’ (Matthew 25:45 NLT)
The ‘least of these’ are everyone society naturally places into the outcast category. The upside down reality of God’s Kingdom is that every outcast is Jesus, himself.
It reminds me of an ugly and awkward interaction I had recently. Pulling up at lights I suddenly had a scantily clad heavily tattooed young man, unlit cigarette in mouth, start washing my windshield. I was immediately moved to say “No! I didn’t ask you to do that.” And I did say that. Needless to say, he flipped me the bird! Immediately I had an ugly feeling within; not a fearful feeling, but a feeling that I needed to put this right. Soon I found myself moved by the Spirit to do a U-turn and put the situation right. I did so, but when I parked and got out of my vehicle where the young man was, I could tell what was going through his mind — “this guy’s going to ‘go’ me!” As I approached him at a distance that I had to raise my voice, I said “I just wanted to say sorry.” The tension in him immediately dropped. “I’m just out of prison and I’m just trying to make some honest dollars for my missus and kids instead of breaking into places, mate.” I said, “I know, mate, and I’m proud of you for trying to do the right thing. I’m a pastor but I’ve got my own history of trouble in the past. I just want to bless you, brother.” We shook hands and I left feeling a lot better about things, as I’m sure he did, too.
This young guy, I know, has faced much more rejection in his short life than I ever will. He’s society’s outcast, trying to play society’s rules that he probably doesn’t believe in. He’s loved only by those who have similar problems that he’s got. He’s very ill-equipped of himself to get himself out of his cycle of life. But he’s trying the best he can like the rest of us. He deserves as much love as he can get. I could’ve been uncomfortable approaching him if I hadn’t felt so convicted to make the situation right.
Making our world right is about feeling convicted in our soul to reach out — especially in the lives of those who really want and need out acceptance. Then we’ll do right things and not shrink in fear.
I don’t know what had affected this young man in his life, but it was clear from what he said that substance abuse had been an issue; aggression, too. Yet he was still so easily rejected by me. Many outcasts trust people implicitly and are hurt routinely. It is our obligation to love them especially well.
The outcast of society is an especially vulnerable person needing and deserving our love. It’s the unlovable person who most needs our love. And it’s only when we recognise there are many unlovable parts of us, yet God loves us fully, that helps us love a person we find unlovable.
Getting back to the original question in this article: what’s God’s will for society’s outcast?
Grow. Grow in wisdom to discern who is trustworthy and who isn’t. Trust the trustworthy. Don’t trust your vulnerabilities to just anyone. The trustworthy are those who will prove they’re caring. Find people who will love you for who you are and don’t give up until you do. Doing these things will help you grow.
Learn. Learn what you can about yourself from rejection, and particularly use rejection as a means of growing in grace. Learn to forgive, and there’s no easier way than just doing it. Make a study of humility. But most of all learn to accept who you are; who God made you (even if others don’t or can’t). And even if you never learned another thing, remember God still loves you.
Find. Find joy. Find joy in the simple things in life. Most of all, find God in every area of life.
© 2015 Steve Wickham.