Rejoicing in Rejection
Let’s end this gap with one final example from Scripture, the example of a man who didn’t let the fear of rejection, or blatant rejection itself, stop him. The Apostle Paul. A man who had the audacity to say, “Follow my example as I follow the example of Christ.”
Paul had it all before meeting Jesus! He was a rising star in the Jewish ranks until he encountered Jesus and experienced a humbling not many of us will never know. Paul went on to preach the gospel to anyone who would listen. He pursued Christ fervently, constantly growing closer to Him. We get a glimpse of his passion and dependence upon Christ in Philippians 3. He says, “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him.”
We read that and think, “Oh! I want that sort of relationship with Jesus!” but what we don’t realize is that
Paul didn’t write those words from the comfort of his corner office. He wrote them from prison shortly before he was executed.
And for what? For sharing the good news of Jesus with a broken world. Do you think Paul regretted his life? Absolutely not! In fact, he even tells us, again from jail, that he has learned the secret to being completely content. He says in Philippians 4:11b-13, “I have learned how to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” And then we get the all-time famous verse, “I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.”
Maybe it’s time we adopted this same attitude and stopped worrying about being accepted by the world and focused more on the fact that we’re already accepted in the Kingdom of God. You know what? We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. We can handle awkward interactions, we can continue to be neighbors with people who look at us funny and shut down the conversation, and we can find confidence in being labeled as Jesus freaks. Suddenly the rejection doesn’t seem so daunting, does it? With our eyes focused on Christ, our hearts breaking for the things that break His heart, and our minds constantly remembering who we are and whose we are, we can tell others about Him with confidence and, dare I say it, joy.
When we stop, breathe, turn to the Word of God, focus on the life of Christ, and hear the words of a very real, still-sinful man like Paul, things begin to change. The gap that was once a raging inferno of terror is now more of a candle, flickering safely in the background. It might still be there, but it’s far more benign.
I don’t mean to insinuate that you and I will never struggle with the fear of rejection again. Please don’t misunderstand me. Only now we have an antidote. When fear begins to rise, we know where to turn. We turn to our Example who was hated and rejected first, we turn to our identity which is found in Christ, we turn to other believers who might be a little further down the line than we are.
If you remember one thing from our time cover this gap, remember this: If our desire is to imitate Christ, we should rejoice when we’re treated like Him.
Write it on a notecard and stick it to your bathroom mirror, your dashboard, or your computer screen. Repeat it mentally as you interact with neighbors, coworkers, or classmates. Return to it when you do get rejected, finding comfort in God’s Word. Share it with a fellow believer, encouraging them to press on. Don’t relegate it to a nice sentiment, but a God-given truth seared onto your heart. Let it change the way you view your role in the lives of those around you. And never let the fear of rejection, fitting in, or being labeled silence you again.