Sunday, April 26, 2009

Overcoming Rejection

Here are the notes from our sermon on Sunday that I will be doing with Brad Krebs. Thanks to many people who responded to our posts Wednesday night when we were working on this.

Listen here.

Rejection is a natural and normal part of life.

The goal shouldn’t be to live a life absent of rejection, the appropriate aim is to overcome, learn, and grow from rejection so we can flourish and thrive.

Sometimes rejection comes because of things we have no control over.

Now Jephthah of Gilead was a great warrior. He was the son of Gilead, but his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s wife also had several sons, and when these half brothers grew up, they chased Jephthah off the land. “You will not get any of our father’s inheritance,” they said, “for you are the son of a prostitute.” So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Soon he had a band of worthless rebels following him. –Judges 11:1-3

Jesus experienced rejection.

When Jesus had finished telling these stories and illustrations, he left that part of the country. He returned to Nazareth, his hometown. When he taught there in the synagogue, everyone was amazed and said, “Where does he get this wisdom and the power to do miracles?” Then they scoffed, “He’s just the carpenter’s son, and we know Mary, his mother, and his brothers—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. -Matthew 13:53-55

Then the high priest tore his clothing to show his horror and said, “Blasphemy! Why do we need other witnesses? You have all heard his blasphemy. What is your verdict?” “Guilty!” they shouted. “He deserves to die!” Then they began to spit in Jesus’ face and beat him with their fists. And some slapped him. -Matthew 26:63-67

Rejection hurts the most from those we love the most.

Meanwhile, Peter 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.” -Matthew 26:69-75

Don’t fear rejection because fear will keep us from allowing ourselves to take the risks necessary to move forward in life.

Sometime later, the Lord spoke to Abram in a vision and said to him, “Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great.” -Genesis 15:1

Don’t face rejection alone.

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. –Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Don’t avoid necessary conflict for too long.

If another believer sins against you, go privately and point out the offense. If the other person listens and confesses it, you have won that person back. But if you are unsuccessful, take one or two others with you and go back again, so that everything you say may be confirmed by two or three witnesses. If the person still refuses to listen, take your case to the church. Then if he or she won’t accept the church’s decision, treat that person as a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. –Matthew 18:15-17

Rejection may be God’s way of saying that He has a better plan. We can embrace rejection as an opportunity to develop.

Joseph, one of Jacob’s 12 sons, was obviously the favorite. Hated by his brothers for this, Joseph was sold to slave traders only to emerge as the ruler of all Egypt. Through Joseph, we learn how suffering, no matter how unfair, develops strong character and deep wisdom. Joseph’s story is found in Genesis 37:1-50:26

Don’t allow rejection to turn into failure.

No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead. -Philippians 3:13

Live for an Audience of One.

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. -Galatians 1:10

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