The notion of human independence is a delusion. Granted, there are levels to this, but no one human ever comes near complete self-sufficiency. That is because independence goes against human nature. Aristotle said, He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god. In another article on childhood trauma, I touched on how dependent human beings are on their parents at birth. Without someone present to constantly take care of us and give us attention, we have no chance at life. Infants deprived of love, affection, and physical stimulation die or develop development disorders. And most humans spend around two decades during their formative years under the supervision of at least one adult.
When we grow up, our need for others evolves, but it does not disappear. Ideally, we go from being dependent as infants and adolescents, to being interdependent for the rest of our lives. God is relational, and human beings are said to be made in the image of God. The fact is our relational nature as a species is deeply rooted in our biology and nature.
The Trauma Of Rejection
I said all that to say, to be rejected by others in this life, especially by our parents and people we love, is painful. Rejection, at its root, is a denial of connection. Rejection leads to feelings of emotional isolation, which human beings are not well evolved to endure. To be rejected by enough people or by the right person can be downright traumatic.
A lion or an elephant doesn’t care about your opinion. Unlike lions and elephants, human beings evolved to be interdependent.
We often take cues about God from the world. For example, if our parents were quick to anger, we may think God is quick to anger. If our parents were cold and distant, we may think God is cold and distant. We may also think the world, and its treatment of us, is reflective of how God sees us. This world lionizes power and conformity; those who do not fit that mold, more often than not, wind up as outcasts.
God Judges People By Their Heart
Christianity, beginning in the Hebrew Bible, goes to great lengths to refute the common conception that the world is an accurate representation of who God is. We are introduced to the presence and prevalence of evil, from the perspective of God, in the first book of Genesis (6:6, e.g.). We are told time and again that God judges people by their hearts, not by their intelligence, power, personality, social status, or reputation in the world. A few, of MANY, examples..
But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”1 Samuel 16:7
All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be,Isaiah 66:2
declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look:
he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.
Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’Matthew 25:37-40
Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.James 4:4
The most striking example, however, of the world’s divergence from the heart of God is none other than Jesus Christ. A perfect human being—unlike me and you—who was persecuted his entire public life and gruesomely murdered. Christ’s treatment by the world is, in fact, the greatest conceivable indictment against it.
He was despised and rejected by men,Isaiah 53:5
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
God directly addresses outcasts of human societies in numerous places in both the Old and New Testaments. Not only political outcasts living outside the nation of Israel, but social outcasts living within it. King David, for his part, spent several years on the run after being rejected by the king of his country. In the New Testament, Paul notes that many early Christians came from lowly backgrounds and were persecuted by the mainstream of their societies.
The Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.”Isaiah 56:8
For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal,Jeremiah 30:17
declares the sLord, because they have called you an outcast:
‘It is Zion, for whom no one cares!’
The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the outcasts of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:2-3
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.1 Corinthians 1:26-29
As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long, we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”Romans 8:36
To the black sheep of the family. To people who have not been accepted by friends, society or culture. To people who are popular and respected and have a strong social status. People may judge us by what we look like; how we talk; who our family is; how much money we have; or what we can do. God, however, evidently evaluates us according to a different criteria–the content of our characters.
I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.Revelation 2:23
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.Matthew 19:30
Unlike the opinions of people, our character is evidently the correct measure of who we are.
For more, see the complete archive of articles on integrity.