God calls us to live set-apart lives. In a world full of judgement, scorn, and ridicule, living set-apart for Jesus likely means rejection is sure to follow. If we haven’t yet been faced with rejection from the world during our walk with Christ, it’s sure to happen eventually. But coming from someone who, though I hate to admit it, worries way too much about others’ opinions of me, it really is okay.
A popular Bible verse is Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV). One of my friends has told me about an alternative interpretation of this verse to better understand it in its context: “I can endure all things through Christ who strengthens me”, emphasis on the “endure”.
See, Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians while in prison. He wrote “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” while not only facing rejection, but also while being punished for the crime of being a Christian.
Paul got it. He totally understood what it’s like to be a follower of Christ who’s rejected for refusing to fit in with the world. And he calls us, in the midst of all this, to “[r]ejoice in the Lord always. . .” (Philippians 4:4; NIV).
I know. Crazy, right? Paul is telling us to rejoice in our hardships, our sufferings, and our rejections. Say what?! Paul says it again in Romans 5:3-5:
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (ESV).
Here’s where someone like me says something along the lines of, “That sounds awesome. Let’s rejoice in our sufferings. But how do I actually do that? It’s a lot easier said than done.” That’s why it’s so amazing that God has blessed us with so many weapons to battle against rejection and to deal with it. We have others’ encouragement, God’s Word, and His Spirit living within us to constantly remind us that we are His and His alone.
I started reading a book recently called Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely by Lysa TerKeurst. I’d recommend it to anyone reading this and thinking that they might be struggling with rejection. I’m not finished with the book yet, but so far it has been absolutely incredible. Lysa tells stories from her life and gives Scripture to combat the negative mindset she found within herself as a result of rejection.
Not only can reading about others’ battles with rejection, and how they overcame it, be super helpful to us in our walk, but community can also be a tremendous help.
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and do good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-25 (ESV)
A group of like-minded believers can help us remember God’s love when it seems far off. Not to mention that friends offer up godly encouragement, and a little encouragement can go a long way.
All of this comes from God’s Word, though. The most sincere, most effective, deepest encouragements come directly from the Bible. After all, the Creator of the universe loves us and pursues us, and He has promised eternity to all who believe in Jesus Christ. What greater hope and encouragement is there than that?
In all of this, we must not ignore the workings of the Holy Spirit. Recently, I went to a college group at church, and there we talked about a Christian’s spiritual journey. Through all of the ups and downs, there is one constant source of change: the Holy Spirit. If we rely on the Holy Spirit and not on our own strength, we can endure all things, just as Paul says.
So, next time we face rejection, instead of losing heart, why don’t we embrace it, seeking godly guidance, for James 1:12 says:
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (NIV).