The Fear of Rejection

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April 12, 2020

We all like to be liked. We all want to be included and welcomed by our peers. Acceptance from others is a core desire of the human heart we cannot shake. But what happens when we face the threat of rejection? What happens when our efforts to be accepted are turned down by those we love?

👏🏽 You are not alone

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, he zig-zagged throughout the region of Galilee. Eventually, his travels brought him to his hometown, a small area known as Nazareth. Unlike we might expect, Jesus did not receive a hometown hero’s welcome from his fellow Nazarenes. Instead, they questioned him: “‘Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him” (Mark 6:2–3). That’s right. They didn’t worship him. They didn’t celebrate him. They didn’t marvel at him. Instead, they were offended by him. And, ultimately, rejected him.

The pain of rejection can be paralyzing. Being turned down and tossed out can leave an emotional impact lasting a lifetime. Our subsequent fear of rejection can then hold us back from all God has called us to. One way to motivate our crippled spirits is to realize we are not alone in our rejection. Jesus himself, the greatest person to ever live, God in the flesh, was rejected by those he loved. And the epitome of his rejection was his death on the cross.

He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him.
John 1:11

So, as you face the fear of rejection, remember Jesus has walked this path ahead of you. He empathizes with your fear, and he shares your awareness of what it feels like to be rejected. Meditate on the cross and identify yourself all the more with our scorned Savior. He knows your fear. He walks with you. You are not alone.

✨ You are meant to stand out

Even the tiniest bit of light stands out in the darkness. Even one flicker of flame is noticeable in a blackened room.

Jesus says his disciples are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14–16). And he doesn’t compare us to a mere flicker of light, but to a city on a hill and a light on a lampstand. This is our identity: the light of the world. And as such, we were meant to stand out.

Sadly, however, the things we bring to light are not always well received by the world around us. The righteousness of God, the authority of his Word, the exclusivity of salvation in Christ, the call to repentance, and the light of the gospel are not always warmly welcomed by those we share it with. Nevertheless, we are still the light of the world. We are still called to stand out no matter the cost.

We are still the light of the world. We are still called to stand out no matter the cost

In his letter to the churches, the Apostle John writes, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). For those of us who like to be liked, this verse is difficult to swallow. But it affirms the truth, we are called to stand out from the world. The possibility of being rejected increases when we stand out for Christ, but it is our calling to live for Christ; it is our identity to be the light of the world; it is our joy to serve him no matter the cost. You are meant to stand out.

❤️ You are accepted in Christ

We all long for acceptance because we were made to be accepted. We were made to live in the safety and security that come with knowing we are eternally accepted by our loving Creator. In the garden, Adam and Eve were welcomed into God’s paradise. They were embraced into loving fellowship with their Maker. They were accepted for who they were as God’s prized creations. This is what we were made for. This is what we long for.

Tragically, because of our sin and rebellion against God, this is also what we lost. Our original design of living with the joy of being freely and forever accepted by God has been lost due to our sin. But praise be to God, that’s not the end of the story. In the same chapter of Scripture describing our fall into sin, God already begins sowing the seeds of promise that he would one day win us back into his presence.

Gratefully, that day has come. Jesus lived, died, and rose so we could be welcomed back into God’s family and accepted as his own children. Let’s finish that verse I quoted earlier from John’s Gospel, “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:11–12).

As you face the fear of rejection, as you face the sting of being rejected, recall the truth found in God’s Word. You are accepted in Christ. He knows you. He sees you. He’s with you. He accepts you. And his acceptance of you is the only acceptance that’s going to meet the deepest longings of your heart. The acceptance of man will always fall short and leave us wanting. But his love and his grace, and his deep commitment to us will squelch every fear and satisfy every desire.

We were made to live in the safety and security that come with knowing we are eternally accepted by our loving Creator