Continuing now with Christ’s additional teachings, one of which is ‘Do not fear rejection’. Previous blogs have covered the top ten teachings of Christ (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’).
Popularity versus rejection. We all have memories of our childhood school days. It seemed embedded into the longing of our hearts to be in with the most popular kids in class – the ‘it’ gang. We wanted the latest hairstyle, the trendy shoes, the cool clothes so we could fit in. What we wanted to avoid at any and all cost was rejection. To be the one everyone ganged up on, who called names to and who would be shunned at lunchtime. To be rejected is one of the worst possible feelings in the world. The heartbreaking end of a relationship, not getting that dream job, family relationship breakdown. Rejection is hard to escape in this world.
We were not created for rejection
We were not created for rejection. But for total acceptance and total harmony in a Garden called Eden. Which is why we find it so incredibly painful and difficult to deal with. And so our brains have been rewired since birth to dodge pain. Just as we are good at avoiding physical pain (if I touch that hot ring I will be burned), we finetune our lives to try to avoid any emotional pain. But as we all know rejection is inevitable. Do not fear rejection.
This fact is no more real than in the life of a believer. Christ was rejected and so must we be. Isaiah spoke of the reception Christ was to receive over 700 years before He came. He was despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and pain and acquainted with grief; And like One from whom men hide their faces He was despised, and we did not appreciate His worth or esteem Him. Isaiah 53:3. Do not fear rejection.
He gave us a pattern to follow
For those who long to be true followers of Christ. He gave us a pattern to follow. Just as He endured rejection, so are we to therefore endure it – And he who does not take his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me, Matthew 10:38.
For it is the Father they are rejecting, as Jesus said, The one who listens to you listens to Me; and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and the one who rejects Me rejects Him [My heavenly Father] who sent Me, Luke 10:16.
But Jesus had an antidote to this which He delivered in the Sermon on the Mount ‘Blessed [morally courageous and spiritually alive with life-joy in God’s goodness] are you when people hate you, and exclude you [from their fellowship], and insult you, and scorn your name as evil because of [your association with] the Son of Man. Rejoice on that day and leap for joy, for your reward in heaven is great [absolutely inexhaustible]; for their fathers used to treat the prophets in the same way, Luke 6:22.
We have to be about the Father’s business
But we have to be about the Father’s business to reap the rewards in heaven. We have to be promoting the Gospel to have the privilege of being rejected for it. How much time is left? We have no more time to waste. Do not fear rejection.
Jesus sent out the disciples two by two So they went out and preached that men should repent [that is, think differently, recognize sin, turn away from it, and live changed lives]. And they were casting out many demons and were anointing with oil many who were sick and healing them. In dealing with rejection, Jesus told them “Any place that does not welcome you or listen to you, when you leave there, shake the dust off the soles of your feet as a testimony against them [breaking all ties with them because they rejected My message].” Mark 6:11
The message to us and the message we are to preach is ‘Come to Him [the risen Lord] as to a living Stone which men rejected and threw away, but which is choice and precious in the sight of God. 1 Peter 2:4
Shake off the dust under your feet
Henry says – That Christ sent them forth by two and two. He pronounces a very heavy doom upon those that rejected the gospel they preached (Mark 6:11) shake off the dust under your feet, for a testimony against them. Let them know that they have had a fair offer of life and happiness made them. Since they have refused it, they cannot expect ever to have another. Their condemnation in that Great Day, will be more intolerable than that of Sodom.
Though those sent were conscious of great weakness within themselves. Yet, in obedience to their Master’s order, and in dependence upon His strength, they went out. They preached that men should repent and change their minds and reform their lives. The great design of gospel preaching should be, to bring people to repentance, to a new heart and a new way. They did not amuse people with interesting anecdotes, but told them that they must repent of their sins, and turn to God.
Christ gave them power over unclean spirits and they anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them.
Wicked men will hate you
You must expect all the dishonourable treatment that a spiteful world can give you for Christ’s sake. Because you serve Him and His interests you must expect that wicked men will hate you.
Your doctrine and life convict and condemn them. Even those within the church may separate you and then excommunicate you. They will pronounce anathemas against you, as scandalous and incorrigible offenders. They will do this with all possible gravity and solemnity to make the world believe, and almost you yourselves too, that it is ratified in heaven.
Blessed are you when you endure it
Such practice as this seems hard, but blessed are you when you endure it. It will not deprive you of your happiness but will greatly add to it. It is an honour to you, as it is to a brave hero to be employed in the wars, in the service of His Prince; and therefore rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, Luke 6:23.
Do not only bear it, but triumph in it. For “You are therefore highly dignified in the kingdom of grace, for you are treated as the prophets were before you. Do not be ashamed of it, but rejoice in it, for it will be an evidence for you that you walk in the same steps and employed in the same service, with them.” “You will be abundantly recompensed in the Kingdom of Glory. Your reward in heaven is great. Bear your sufferings, in full belief that the glory of heaven will abundantly countervail all these hardships. Whilst you may be losers for Christ, you shall not be losers by Him in the end.”
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
Rejoice with Me We hunted everywhere On high and on low ground Rejoice now with me The sheep that was lost is found. Let us join in the celebration. No longer have we cause to be sad Everyone has been invited. Let us rejoice and be glad. The home joy of heavenly people How wonderful to be able to share! The privilege is in just accepting The invitation to be there. The joy of heaven overflows Filling us through and through And the joy of the repenting sinner We share in that too. By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, quicken me to be a willing servant for You. To hunger for the lost like you do. May I never again shrink back from the rejection to be faced in promoting Your good news or from telling men of their need to repent. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.