This is a repost of a blog written on September 6, 2011.
As I imagine spiritual relationships it is clear that I will not please everyone and will not be liked by everyone and (the startling realization) I don’t need to be. Rather than dwell on those who do not see eye to eye with me I will do better to focus my attention and my energies where God’s favor has opened the way.
This reminded me of what Jesus taught his disciples in Matthew 10:12, “When you knock on a door, be courteous in your greeting. If they welcome you, be gentle in your conversation. If they don’t welcome you, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.” The New International Version puts it this way, “As you enter the house, give it your greeting. If the house is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.”
This verse, describing how Jesus’ disciples were to conduct themselves in ministry, also describes exactly what I am sensing today. Jesus is teaching us here that you will encounter people and when you do you should literally or figuratively give them an enthusiastic embrace, an offering of your peace. Some people will hug you back (literally or figuratively) and the ensuing relationship will be rich. Some people will pull away from your embrace and be uninterested in your offer of peace. When that happens, step back and move on but let your peace, your sense of well-being of soul come back to you.
With some there will be favor; invest there. With others there will be no favor; withdraw but keep your peace.
I have suffered much because I have often failed to heed Jesus’ counsel in this. I have focused on those who refused my hug and my peace, failing to withdraw quietly and refusing the return of my peace; my ego offended, my soul bruised. I required those with whom there is no favor to nourish my ego and suffered when they would not. This is not a practice I am interested in continuing. So, for instance, if I keep trying to ministerially “hug” a person who just isn’t interested but is pulling away; I should stop trying to pursue relationship, step back, and let my peace return. I may wish it otherwise, but continuing to chase them with metaphorical arms outstretched trying to hug while at the same time being hurt and offended is exactly what Jesus said NOT to do. Step back. Let the peace I sought to give return. Smile, relax, pray but release.
But, with those with whom favor exists, with those who are hugging back, with those who receive my peace and return to me their own; with these I will willingly spend my energy, my emotions, my attention, my life.