As social beings we need to feel wanted and valued and being rejected or feeling rejected destabilizes our need to belong, not only wounding us emotionally but unsettling us physically and even spiritually.
With such a strong emotion being a constant feature of adulthood, it is critical that we find ways to deal with the emotion.
No one is well acquainted with the awful emotional pinch of rejection like Jesus. He was made sin to save us from the true effects of sin; came unto His own, fully meeting the description of the Messiah based on what the prophets of old had given, still He was rejected by His own. He was betrayed, abandoned, crucified and buried.
He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. John 1: 11
Christ met the prophetic description of who the Messiah would be but failed to meet the expectations of who the people thought their Messiah would be. The people wanted an earthly leader to create and rule an earthly kingdom but Christ came for more than leading temporal earthly kingdoms. He was here to enlist them to be part of a greater, more eternal kingdom — that which is in Heaven.
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Isaiah 53: 3
Even though He preached and worked numerous miracles that made it impossible for anyone to deny His divine worth, He was still rejected.
As telling as the incidences of His rejection were of the people’s closed minds, the methods in which Christ handled the rejection, are worth incorporating in our lives.
His methods will not only help us to cope with rejection but to recover and keep moving in spite of it.
Through several accounts in the New Testament, the religious leaders were intent on exposing Jesus as a pretender and blasphemer.
Consider Mark 11 and 12. The religious leaders asked Jesus where His authority came from. What gave Him the right to heal people on the Sabbath, teach about God, do miracles, and cast out demons? Who exactly did He think He was—and where did His authority come from? These were trap question (if He said His authority came from God, they could have easily pinpointed that God would not approve of someone who breaks His law; if He said the authority came from Himself, the leadership of the community and crowds would further not believe His claims).
Sometimes our authority and authenticity are questioned by people of influence – people at work, in the community or even in our churches. These seemingly good-natured questions are rooted from rejection.
And it can hurt.
It can hurt to have our calling questioned. It can hurt to have our expertise questioned. It can hurt to be rejected by those you have chosen to work with or minister to.
Jesus’ response to this subtle form of rejection is priceless. He refused to allow the rejection of others to define Him. Christ turned these moments of rejection into teaching tools to reveal the evil intent of the religious leaders and educate the crowds on God’s great kingdom. He did not engage in a hostile debate with them, but open dialogue as He carefully posed questions of His own to them and awaited their feedback.
When you are rejected by persons of influence, see it as an opportunity to shift their opinion with positive actions; see it as a moment to engage in open dialogue with them to gather feedback that you later can process and apply to your life, if you desire. We must first have an open spirit to do so.
Defensive mechanisms such as denying, arguing, blaming or attacking are natural and normal, but they prevent us from using a seemingly bad situation as an opportunity to learn more of ourselves so that we can enjoy a greater sense of self-awareness and move toward more meaningful self-improvement.
“Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”
Have you ever heard words like this before from someone you love? I will never hurt you! I will never let you down! They are promises of loyalty by well-meaning close friends or lovers to never let us down or reject us.
Peter was in this position with Jesus.
As he was sitting outside in the courtyard, a servant girl came over and said to him, “You were one of those with Jesus the Galilean.” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. Later, out by the gate, another servant girl noticed him and said to those standing around, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again Peter denied it, this time with an oath. “I don’t even know the man,” he said. A little later some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You must be one of them; we can tell by your Galilean accent.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know the man!” And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he went away, weeping bitterly (Matthew 26:69-75, NLT)
We have all had someone close who rejected us. Someone whom we grew up with or fell in love with, for whatever reason rejecting us as a person or rejecting the role we once played in their lives. Out of fear or weakness, they reject us and this form of rejection, stings the most.
For Christ, Peter’s rejection cost Him physical pain as the soldiers, mocked him mercilessly, after Peter denied who his friend was.
The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him. Luke 22: 64 – 65
What’s telling is that Christ allowed the natural progression toward His death to continue, after that moment. He was taken to Pilot in the morning and everything went downhill from there. See Luke 22: 66 onward and Luke 23. Sometimes, that is all we can do when we are let down by those who are close. We have to just grieve naturally. Let the process come to its own end and move on bravely…if not….gracefully.
Christ also predicted that Peter would deny Him.
Are we this vigilant? Do we possess such a great spirit of discernment where we can look at the patterns of behaviors of a friend and can assume that sooner or later, a form of rejection or let down, will occur?
So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Matthew 27: 17
But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” Luke 23: 18
The crowd rejected the truth – Jesus and accepted the criminal.
People will often reject the truth that is in front of them, and choose a comforting lie. Jesus simply responded, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” That should be our approach when we encounter persons who prefer a sweet lie than a saving truth – pray to God that their eyes may be opened to the truth and they may wake out of their ignorance.
It’s so important to keep in mind that rejection is not necessarily—probably not even usually—a reflection on who we are or the way we present ourselves. Sometimes, we are rejected for unmerited reasons, as Jesus was rejected by the crowd. Other times, we are rejected because we simply remind persons of a phase in their life that they have not accepted, a bad friend who left them disappointed….or because the very values we cherish are different from theirs.
Whatever the unmerited reason of being the victim of rejection – give yourself enough self-care to make it through each day.
Each day is stressed here because every day deserves a different, fiercer approach of loving ourselves.
Every time the Savior interacted with the crowd and experienced some form of rejection, He separated Himself and recharged Himself with the strength and love of His Father.
But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. Luke 5: 16
Jesus treated Himself with love and compassion; the definition of self-care.
Self-care is a necessity. Of all the methods Christ used while dealing with rejected, this is the most practical – caring for ourselves when we have been wounded.
How do you care for yourself – exercising, recharging with a good book, spending time with someone you love, cooking? Whatever your go to self- care routine or habit is – do lots of it.
As we move forward in spite of the rejection that we face in our daily lives, let us surrender our rejection of Christ and others along the way. And let us not forget that rejection from man isn’t equal to rejection from God or rejection of God.
Love, peace and light,
(c) 2016, Dentrecia Blanchette