Nobody wants to face rejection, but it seems an inevitable part of the Christian faith. Throughout Scripture, we are reminded that disciples of Jesus Christ will face unjust rejection of all kinds…in fact, we are encouraged to take joy in our rejection, knowing that we are sharing in the sufferings of our Lord.
This sounds like a nice ideal, but how do we arrive at such a lofty goal? How do we learn to rejoice in our rejection, and delight in persecution?
Before answering this question, I think it is crucial that we understand that not all rejection is godly. Because of the fallen nature of humanity, there are too many instances where the people who should be providing love, compassion, and support instead offer rejection and hatred. The Bible does not regard these moments as holy or godly and sanction them, but it does paint a picture of a God, who sees us at our lowest and lifts up those who have been cast aside.
This article is not meant to demand that those who have faced emotional, verbal, or physical neglect, rejection, or abuse would simply delight in their hardships because they allow one to be closer to Christ. Our Heavenly Father is broken over the sin condition of the world, and offers His healing arms to those who have suffered in this way.
Conversely, this article is not meant to be a pat on the back to those who have faced rejection because of a compassionless, forceful, and aggressive need to prove others wrong, or show others, how much God hates their particular sin. Quite frankly, for those who fall into this camp, rejection is just the natural consequence to an unloving approach; such an approach finds no endorsement in the scriptures.
This article is instead to be an encouragement to those who have been rejected because of their faith and desire to follow the call of Christ. So, for those Christians who have encountered rejection, I offer several ways to take our eyes off of our pain and allow our rejection to bring us closer to Christ.
- Remember Jesus
Christ was rejected, and you are His. Our rejection for His sake is, in one sense, evidence of our adoption (See John 15:18; Luke 10:16; Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:13). Christ’s coming into this world was essentially offensive – His message was not, and is not, an easy pill to swallow. It is a message that our natural sin nature will reject at every opportunity. When you face rejection in your life as a Christian, you can be reminded that you are His!
- Delight in your acceptance
There will always be somebody who will disapprove of or reject you, but there is great comfort in the reality that God Himself has accepted you as His child. We do not deserve His acceptance, but He delights over us as His children and accepts us into His family as coheirs with Christ (Ephesians 1:5; Romans 8:15-17). When we are met with painful rejection, we must remember that we have already received the entire acceptance we need in Christ Himself. People are not our source of fulfillment or acceptance. Jesus is.
- Give thanks
Christ suffered the rejection of those closest to Him, and those who He came to save. Hebrews reminds us that “for the joy that was set before Him [He] endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2). When you are met with rejection, do not allow yourself to focus on your own pain. Rather, look up to the example of Jesus and thank Him for the unjust rejection He faced for our sake. Let your own rejection be reminders of that which Jesus suffered, and let it drive you to thankfulness and worship. Give thanks for His sacrifice, and give thanks that He has counted you worthy to suffer for His name (Acts 5:41)!
We are told to pray for our enemies and for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:43-44). When we are rejected for the sake of the Gospel, there is peace found in getting on our knees and praying for those who spurn us. Somehow, in this backwards, upside down Kingdom of God, it is praying for those who reject us that might become our greatest blessing. The Spirit of God comforts us as we plead with Him for the lives of others, and we become incapable of harboring bitterness toward those who have wronged us. When we intercede for them we can do so with the heart of Christ. This seems counterintuitive, but it’s Biblical, and it works.
Rejection should not be surprising to the Christian. It is an essential aspect of our call to go into the world and make disciples. When faced with rejection, it is so important that we recall to our minds that we are suffering as Christ’s heirs and have already received all the acceptance we need, that we give thanks for the rejection Christ endured, and that we pray for those who have rejected us. In doing so we can refocus our attention on Christ and place our rejection in perspective.