Sunday, March 18, 2012

Coping With Rejection

Will I experience rejection after I become a Christian?

Yes - the Bible teaches that as a Christian, you will be rejected and persecuted by the world. Our example, Jesus Christ, was rejected by many during His time here on earth. He was rejected by:

His family (John 7:3-5; 1 Cor. 15:7).

His neighbors and friends (Mark 6:1-6).

The religious leaders (Matthew 12:14; Matthew 23).

His own people, the Jews (John 8:48-59).
His disciples (John 6:53-66; Matthew 26:56).

Sharing Christ’s Suffering. Jesus taught His followers that they would be rejected just as He himself was rejected (Matthew 10:24,25; John 15:18-21).

What are some general principles for coping with rejection?

Understand the true nature of rejection. Often the rejection that comes from believing in Christ is of a very personal nature. It feels as though you are being rejected for who you are as a person and it can be very painful. But it’s important to remember that ultimately it is Christ they are rejecting. You are being rejected only because you have chosen to follow Him (John 15:19; Acts 7:51-60). Remember what Ephesians 6:11-12 says—our real enemy is Satan.
Recognize you are not alone. Rejection can leave you feeling very isolated. But you should be aware of the fact that you are not the only one who has experienced rejection. As you have seen above, Jesus went through the same kind of pain. Notice what He said you should keep in mind when being rejected (Matthew 5:12). God will be with you (Hebrews 13:5). There is comfort in knowing that no matter how many others may reject you, God will never leave you.

Keep the goal in sight. The verse you just read gives another principle for coping with rejection
- remember your reward! (Matthew 5:11-12; 19:27-30; Luke 6:35; Philippians 3:8). God has promised to reward those who are faithful in spite of rejection and persecution (Hebrews 11:24-26). Also, remember what you were saved from (Matthew 16:24-26). The road to eternal life may be difficult, but the alternative is eternal death.

Pray for those who reject you (Matthew 5:44). Our attitudes and actions should imitate Christ. His own example was that he prayed for those who were killing him (Luke 23:34).

Find acceptance and friendship with your new family. As a Christian, you have a new family—the Church. Notice what Jesus said in Matthew 12:46-50. The church has a responsibility to reach out to new believers and befriend them. As a new convert, you should show yourself friendly and respond when people extend friendship in your direction.

What should I do if my spouse rejects me?

1 Corinthians 7:10-16 and 1 Peter 3:1-2 give advice on how you should handle being rejected by a spouse:
 If the unbelieving spouse rejects you completely and wants to leave the marriage, let them leave. If they remain unmarried, your desire should be for their salvation and for the restoration of your marriage relationship. If they marry someone else, you are no longer bound to them.

If the unbelieving spouse is willing to live with you, remain with them. God does not want you to divorce your spouse simply because you are now a Christian. Be willing to endure persecution from them with a Christ-like attitude.

As you remain in the relationship, live in such a way that your conduct will witness to them and they may be won without a word being spoken.

In extreme cases where the physical safety of your life/body may be threatened, separate from your spouse but do not pursue other relationships (1 Corinthians 6:19). Your prayer should be for their salvation and for the restoration of your marriage relationship.

What should I do if my family/parents reject me?

If you are young and still living under your parent’s care, you should remain submissive to them and show them respect in spite of their rejection. Be mighty through God in prayer. Many of the principles we looked at in the case of a rejecting spouse can also apply for rejecting parents (e.g. live in such a way that your good behavior is a witness to them).

If you have a family of your own, you may find it necessary to create boundaries to protect yourself and your children. Many times you may discover unbelieving grandparents encouraging your children to do things you forbid or being a bad influence on them (either by lifestyle or speech). In such cases you should be as kind and respectful as you can while still maintaining your own standards.

What should I do if my friends reject me?

In some cases such rejection may be a good thing (because those friends would only be a bad influence—1 Corinthians 15:33). Indeed, some friends may need to be rejected by you as their friendship can only lead to trouble (1 Peter 4:3-5).

If some of your friends respect your faith in Christ, you should remain friends with them and seek to win them to Christ. Prayer is your best weapon here; be firm but sensitive to when they need space/time to think about what you have said.

Turn to the church. As a Christian, you have a new family in the church. It is your responsibility to involve yourself as much as possible in the many activities available. Show yourself friendly.
Boyfriend/girlfriend (2 Corinthians 6:14). You may find yourself in a position where you have been saved but the person you are dating is still a sinner. In such a case, I advise you to be truthful and straightforward about the change in your life. It may be that you will win them to Christ. If they reject Christ and tell you that they will not continue the relationship unless you

give up your faith, you must be ready to break off the relationship. This can be a very difficult and painful experience. But remember, God will reward you for putting Him above all others!

What is going on in the minds of those who reject me?

It is helpful to understand what is going on in the minds of those who reject you. Often you are so focused on how you are being treated that you are unaware of how your faith affects others. Consider this:
Conviction. The change in the heart and life of a new convert is a tremendous source of conviction to their friends and family. Most sinners have some awareness that what they are doing is wrong. Your life serves to amplify this awareness and intensify their feelings of guilt. In a sense, you are making them miserable (actually it is their own stubbornness and rebellion but they will see you as the root case) (2 Corinthians 2:15,16).

Light provokes sin. The Bible teaches that when light and truth are focused on the sinful heart, it provokes more sin (Romans 7:8). Your good example will serve to inspire sin in those rejecting you so don’t be surprised if they become even worse than they were.
Justification. Sinners are constantly trying to justify their attitudes and actions to themselves and others in an attempt to ward off the feelings of guilt they have for their sin. You may find them trying to justify themselves to you.

Persecution. Many times the one rejecting you may persecute you hoping you will respond in kind—if you do, it will make them feel better to know you are really no different than they are. If you don’t, you will convict them all the more.

© 2009 Nathan E. Brown

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