Rejection Just Ahead

Rejection Just Ahead

It’s coming!

Regardless of how hard we try to avoid rejection, at some time in our life, we will all know what it is to be hurt, let down, and excluded. Everyone has experiences of rejection, from the playground to more serious episodes with parents, friends, ex-spouse, and jobs. With wickedness increasing, Christians can expect increasing persecution and rejection.

Currently, most rejection is verbal. “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me” is a LIE. Words can hurt deeply. A child can be wounded for life by words of rejection. They grow up longing for love and try to get acceptance one way or the other. Sometimes that behavior leads to more rejection. Sometimes they grow up rejecting everyone else so they don’t get hurt again.

So, how do you handle rejection?

  1. I go out of my way to impress or convince, so I won’t be rejected again.
  2. I retreat or withdraw to avoid further rejection.
  3. I lash out in anger and reject others in return.
  4. I do all of the above.

Since we cannot avoid rejection, and since we can expect more rejection as wickedness increases, we need to know how to respond to it. Jesus has been rejected more than anyone. He is our example for responding to rejection correctly.

John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.

Isaiah 53:3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Jesus’ own family thought He was mentally imbalanced - a religious fanatic - saying He was out of His mind.

Mark 3:20-22 Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “by the prince of demons he casts out the demons.”

This kind of rejection and name-calling would discourage most of us from ministry. It is a good example of how people react when the Truth contradicts with their beliefs.

When people cannot refute the message, they reject the messenger. By discrediting and rejecting the messenger, they feel comfortably self-justified and remain unchanged.

Jesus’ response to rejection is that He faced it, not with fear, but with expectation. He did not deny the rejection nor defend himself. He did not try to prove who He is by performing a special miracle. He simply acknowledged the rejection and continued His ministry in other villages.

At times, thousands would gather to hear Jesus. His ministry appeared successful, but when they were offended by the Truth, they rejected Him and went home.

John 6:66-67 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Peter declared, "Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you." And all the other disciples said the same. However, when Jesus was arrested at Gethsemane, all of them left Him. None of them testified in His defense. And three times Peter denied He even knew Jesus!

On the cross, Jesus also felt rejected by His Father. Mark 15:34, “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Jesus endured all this rejection and suffering because He loves us. Nevertheless, every day people still reject His love, His Word, and the salvation He provides. As a result of rejecting Jesus, people will also reject us if we are following Jesus. The truth is, as Christians, we are called to experience rejection just as Jesus did.

Listen to what Jesus says in Matthew 10:16-25, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. “The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household!”

Are we ready and willing to suffer rejection for believing and obeying Jesus Christ? Test yourself with this important question, “Who am I trying to please?”

Even though it means others will reject us, we need to live our lives to please our Father in Heaven. However, pleasing God is NOT an excuse for us to reject others! We are to live and present the Gospel of Jesus Christ with love, gentleness, and kindness. Doing this will be offensive enough to those who reject the Truth.

Galatians 1:10 For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.

Saul, laid aside the approval of man and his fast track to Jewish stardom. After his conversion, he changed his name to Paul and lived in obscurity for a while. During that time, God tested him outside of the limelight so he would have perseverance when he faced rejection in the limelight. After the test, Paul did not need man’s approval because he knew he had received his message from God. As a result of his faithfulness to the message, Paul suffered greatly from rejection. He was flogged five times, beaten three times, stoned once, imprisoned, and finally executed. Nevertheless, he was confident of God’s approval on the Day of Judgment.

While in prison, Paul writes to Timothy before his execution, 2 Timothy 4:7-8 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Again, I ask, “Whose approval are we seeking? Are we willing to suffer rejection from man to have God’s approval?” At the Judgment, whose approval will matter to us then?

How then should we deal with rejection as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ?

1. Expect it. Those who reject Jesus will reject us as well, for the same reasons. Let’s make sure the rejection we get is for acting like Jesus and sharing the Gospel, and not for anything else, such as obnoxious behavior.

2. Accept it. The joy that is set before us from hearing the Father say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant," is not worthy to be compared with the rejection we face now.

Acts 5:40-42 And when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the Name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ [Messiah] is Jesus.

3. And, most importantly, respond to rejection as our Lord did, with love.

Luke 9:51-56 As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them, and said, "You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives but to save them." And they went to another village.

Can I love those who reject me? Can you? No, we will react like James and John with self-righteous indignation and vengeance. But Jesus in us can love them if we are filled with His Holy Spirit. That is what those who reject us and all the world needs to see in us—the love of Jesus!

We all want to be accepted by other people when we share our faith, but the fear of man and the fear of rejection often causes us to remain silent and act like the world.

John 12:42-43 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God.

We think it will be terrible if someone rejects of our faith in Jesus Christ and His Word. People can sense this fear in us and will use their approval as a means of manipulating us. The temptation is to conform to their desires and share a gospel that will please them. When we conform, they remain comfortable, and praise us for our ministry. If we don’t conform to them and speak the truth of God’s Word, they will reject us and discredit us as servants of Jesus Christ with name calling and accusations of false teaching.

Therefore, remember: We must give an account to God. When rejection happens because you are obeying Christ, accept it, realize you are blessed, and rejoice! Be glad that you are in the very thick of what Christ experienced. Yes, rejection is just ahead, but so is GLORY!

Jesus said in Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Not only do we need to respond to rejection like Jesus did, but we also need to guard against rejecting others. Rejecting others is easy to do when we fear rejection. For example, Peter feared rejection and on one occasion that fear caused him to reject others.

Paul writes in Galatians 2:11-13, When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

Purposefully avoiding and not eating with someone exhibits rejection. To escape rejection from those who are similar to us, we tend to come up with all kinds of ways of separating ourselves from people who are different from us.

Peter was afraid of the opinion of the men from James. So in their presence, he quit eating with the Gentile believers to retain the approval of the Jewish believers. In doing so, Peter was actually rejecting the Gentile believers and undermining everyone’s faith. Fortunately, after Paul pointed out his hypocrisy, Peter repented.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, including the fear of man and the fear of rejection. Like Peter, we also need to repent of the subtle ways we reject those who are different from us because of a fear of rejection from family or friends.

Remember, our worth comes from Christ, not from what other people think of us. People may reject you, but God, through Jesus Christ, accepts you. With arms open wide, He says “Come unto me.”

Therefore, come to Him if you are suffering from rejection. He will give you acceptance and love. Rest, comfort, peace, and joy are yours in God’s Kingdom.

Psalm 27:10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me.

If you have not made Jesus your Lord and Savior, you might be accepted by the world, but you will be rejected by God on the Day of Judgment. Today, He says, “Come unto me.” That means: believe that Jesus is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross and rose from the dead. Give your life to Him by repenting of your sin and dying to your old life in baptism. He will give you a new life, born of the Holy Spirit.

The world will reject you, but you will be accepted by your Father in Heaven. On the Day of Judgment He will say, “Welcome home, my child”.