Pretty much all of us have experienced ‘rejection’ at one time or another. It may have been something very minor or it may have been so devastating that it affected your whole life and all of your relationships. Here are some common examples: you were not chosen to play on a sports team, you were teased during your school years, you were publicly humiliated, you were not given a job you applied for, or you were laid off from your job for no good reason. Some even more painful examples include: knowing you were an unwanted child, growing up without ever feeling love from one or both of your parents, growing up in a home where your parents divorced, being the object of abuse (verbal, physical or even sexual), having a brother or sister favoured above you, feeling the pain of a divorce and the rejection of someone you thought would be a lifelong partner. Experiences such as these can be very hurtful and can tend to leave wounds in your heart, whether you are aware of them or not. You feel rejected. You feel crushed (Prov.18:14).Rejection
Rejection can be defined as a sense of being unwanted. You desire people to love you, yet you believe that they do not. You want to be part of a group, but you feel excluded. Somehow you are always on the outside looking in. You don’t feel wanted or accepted. Rejection ends up being one of the most common ‘roots’ of a host of other personal problems. Rejection is a root from which much that is harmful can grow. Rejection is not outwardly visible. It can be a hidden, inner attitude that we carry around. That’s why we need to see rejection rooted out of lives so that it doesn’t continue to bear negative fruit (Mt.3:10).The Results of Rejection
The primary result of rejection is the inability to receive or communicate love. A person who has never experienced being loved cannot give love. The Bible says it this way: “We love because he first loved us (1Jn.4:19).” Other results of rejection include: giving up (this leads to loneliness, self-pity, misery, depression, despair, hopelessness and even suicide), building walls (putting up a defence or a façade of superficial happiness), or fighting back (expressed in resentment, hatred or rebellion).How to BREAK Free from Rejection
The good news is that God can heal you of the wounds of rejection.
- Believe that Jesus took your Rejection on the Cross - In Christ, God made one all-inclusive provision that covers all the needs of all people: the sacrificial death of Jesus on the cross. Jesus took our sin, our pain, our shame, and our rejection upon himself. He endured a double rejection – first from his own people and then by God himself (Is.53:3. Mt.27:45-4). Jesus was rejected by people and even His Father turned away from him in that agonising moment. You and I may have experienced some measure of rejection but not to this degree. Jesus drained the cup of rejection to its bitter dregs. He did this all for us so that we could be free!
- Receive God’s Acceptance - Right at the very moment that Jesus took all of our sin, pain and rejection upon himself, something dramatic happened. The curtain in the temple was split from top to bottom (Mt.27:51). This meant that the barrier between God and man was removed. The way was opened for us to come to God without shame, without guilt and without fear. Jesus took our rejection so that we might experience His acceptance. God offers us acceptance in place of our rejection when we turn to him through Jesus (see Eph.1:3-6 in the NKJV). In Christ, we are not only ‘accepted’, we are ‘approved’ of and ‘highly favoured’ by God. God loves us in just the same way as He loves Jesus. We become members of his family.
God’s eternal purpose was that we might become his children (1 Jn.3:1-3). Because of what Jesus has done, the Father God now accepts you. His love for you is not based on your performance but on the fact that you are his child. Stop seeking significance through your performance or through the approval of others. God has provided for us a sense of love, acceptance and significance apart from our ability to perform. We have been justified or placed in right standing before God through what Christ has done. Of course, now that we are loved, forgiven and accepted we will want to love and obey God – not in order to be accepted by him but because we already are. Believe that Jesus has taken your rejection and receive his acceptance right now.
- Engage with Your Spiritual Family - God’s love for you is not only to be experienced vertically (between you and Him) but also horizontally (between you and others). God wants each of his children in a spiritual family where they can experience love and acceptance. We are only complete in relationship to others, just like the parts of a human body need each other. You need others and they need you. No one is unnecessary. God’s family is to be the best family – a place where we experience God’s love for us, our love for Him, and our love for each other. As we learn to fully receive God’s love and acceptance for ourselves, we are then positioned to pass that love and acceptance on to other people. By the Spirit, the Father wants to fill our hearts with his love (Rom.5:5). Learn how to accept people as they are (Rom.15:7). Treat people as if they're important. See them through God's eyes - as someone who Christ died for. Don't underestimate the value of a single person. You have never locked eyes with someone who does not matter to God.
- Accept Yourself. Because God has fully accepted you, you need to also accept yourself. You are made in God’s image and likeness. You are His child. He does not make junk. You are his ‘workmanship’ – his masterpiece and his work of art (Eph.2:8-10). This is sometimes the hardest step of all. Begin seeing yourself as God sees you. Base your view of yourself on what God says about you. Declare who you are in Christ according to God’s Word. Avoid feelings of inferiority (rejection) and superiority (pride). Begin overriding the old, negative self-talk and learn to accept yourself.
- Keep a Forgiving Stance Toward Others. In response to those who rejected and crucified him, Jesus prayed: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing (Lk.23:34).” Forgiving those who hurt us and reject us is not an easy thing to do. In fact, it’s virtually impossible without God’s help. However, the Holy Spirit will give you supernatural grace to do so, if you ask. Forgiveness is not an emotion; it is a decision.
The most powerful evidence that you have been healed of the wound of rejection is that you can love the person who rejected you. This is the most unnatural thing in the world but it can happen through the supernatural power of God’s love. In this way, you become a vessel of God’s love to others who may have been wounded just as you were. John Maxwell puts it this way, “Hurt people hurt people”. Use people’s offence towards you as a means of showing Christ’s love back to them.
May each one of us break out of any prison of rejection and live the full life God intends for us beginning today.A Prayer of Release from Rejection –
“Thank you, Father, for sending Jesus to die for my sin and my feelings of rejection. I thank you for accepting me just as you accept your Son, Jesus. May your amazing love be the foundation of my life. I choose to accept myself and those around about me. I choose to forgive those who have hurt and wounded me. I let go of bitterness, resentment and hatred. Help me to love others just as you love me. Thank you for setting me free from rejection – right now, in Jesus name. Amen.”Sample Discussion Questions
- Share about a time when you felt rejected? What happened and how did it affect you?
- What are some indicators that a person is battling with rejection? In other words, how does rejection affect our lives?
- Why do we sometimes find it difficult to accept ourselves?
- God loves and accepts us as his children apart from our performance. However, when we disobey him he is not pleased with us and moves in to appropriately discipline us. How do we balance out this sense of always being loved by God yet also being held accountable for our behaviour?
- What are some characteristics of a healthy family? What are some characteristics of a dysfunctional family? What are some ways we can ensure that our church family is healthy and not dysfunctional?
- Share a story of someone that God helped you to forgive – what was the impact on you as well as on the person?