Faithlife Sermons

5. Overcoming Rejection

Singing the Sacred  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Me:

Thanks for joining us this morning as we wrap up our sermon series, Singing the Sacred. As most of you know, this series has been a part of a bigger spiritual growth campaign we are on called Core52…where each week we focus in on one of the key verses that make up the Bible. Our goal here is to improve our biblical literacy and discover how amazing the Bible really is. If you would like to jump in a join us, it’s not too late! Contact me, and I will get you the resources. You can simply pick up with us as we head into week 13.
Tell Joke About Being Reject On A Blind Date.
Rejection can have a big impact on your life.

We:

All of us have experienced rejection. You simply can’t escape it. Whether it’s being rejected from a group of peers, a dating relationship, a job interview, or from your family…rejection can happen in many different ways and situations. However, no matter how many times you’ve had to face rejection, it never gets easy. It always stings.
Here are some of the ways that rejection impacts our lives:
These come from an article in Psychology Today written by Dr. Guy Winch about surprising facts about rejection. Here are five.
Rejection piggybacks on physical pain pathways in the brain. The same areas of the brain that are activated by physical pain, are also activated from rejection.
We relive social pain more vividly than physical pain. The hurt of rejection is held on to more clearly than the physical pain we have experienced. I know this is true for me.
Rejection destabilizes our “Need to Belong.” We all have a fundamental need to belong to a group. When we are rejected, this need becomes destabilized and adds to our emotional pain.
Rejection creates surges of anger and aggression. We all have heard news stories of people who have been rejected, fired or separated from someone…only to retaliate in anger. However, more often then not, this anger is turned inward and leads to depression.
Rejection sends us on a mission to seek and destroy our self-esteem. For many of us, when we are rejected we begin to look at our faults and inadequacies and make them bigger then what they really are. When we attack our self-worth we end up only deepening the emotional pain, making it even more difficult to recover and try again.
I know that more than likely, there are some of you who right now are suffering from rejection. For that, I’m truly sorry. If you are not going through rejection right now, at some point you have or will, but we also need to always be aware and have empathy and what they are experiencing. That person who cut you off, or was rude to you…well they very well have just experienced some type of rejection.
So what are we supposed to do with rejection? How are we to handle it? Is there are healthy way to deal with it? Is there a way to protect ourselves from it? Thankfully, the Bible has a lot to say about rejection…it’s actually a big deal.
Let’s take a few minutes and see what God has to say about rejection.

God:

If you have a Bible or device, find Psalm 118. If you have the YouVersion Bible app, if you would open that up to Events, and look for Iowa City Church, you should be able to find all the Scriptures, Sermon notes, and a very helpful Bible reading plan focused on recovering from Rejection. Make sure and check that out.
As I’ve mentioned throughout this series, the book of Psalms is essentially the Jewish people’s hymnal. They knew many of these psalms by heart, and even sang specific ones on certain occasions, much like Psalm 118. We all know that Christmas will be here soon, and with it comes Christmas carols. If I was to say, “Joy to the World” most of you could easily continue by saying, “The Lord Has Come.” Or “Hark the Herald”--”Angels sing.” How about this one: “Grandma got run over”--”By a reindeer.” See, you know how it works!
The Jewish people in Jesus’ day would sing this psalm as they were coming to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles, or for the Passover. They would sing it as they were going to the Temple to offer their sacrifice. It was a song about God’s loyal love for his people Israel. “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;”---the people would immediately reply, “his love endures forever.” I think you get the picture. Let’s go to verse 22, it’s our Core verse for the week. Again, this verse is going to be quoted by Jesus on multiple occasion…and it will show up all over your New Testament. Here it is:
Psalm 118:22 NIV
The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;
Yep. That’s it. We don’t have time to break it all down in the Psalm, but the gist is pretty straightforward. When building a structure out of stone, there is one stone which is the corner stone, or in the case of an arch it’s sometimes called the cap stone. Essentially, it needs to be perfect and square, and all of the other stones are lined up off of this one stone. So in the psalm, the builders rejected this stone, but God ended up using it as the cornerstone for what he was building.
This even addresses the issue we are talking about today, rejection. What these human builders rejected, cast to the side, God used to build his structure, building or temple with. This is an important theme we need to pay close attention to…and a theme that will continue to show up throughout the Bible:
God takes what people reject and uses them to build amazing things.
Okay, let’s jump ahead to the first part of your NT. Jesus is in Jerusalem during the last week leading up to the crucifixion. He is in a back and forth conversation with the religious leaders who are trying to trap him and cause him to make a mistake so they can discredit him. Jesus calls them out for their jealousy and rejection of him by using a very pointed parable (Matthew 21). Then after telling the parable he says this (Matthew 21:42-46)
Matthew 21:42–46 NIV
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “ ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Anyone who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; anyone on whom it falls will be crushed.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet.
This is such a slap in the face to the religious leaders! Of course they had read it! They probably had sung it earlier that week. But the more they rejected Jesus, the more it played right into God’s plan. They were fulfilling Psalm 118:22 and there was seemingly nothing they could do to stop themselves! Jesus is good!

1. Jesus Understands How It Feels To Be Rejected.

What makes Jesus so special and so unique is that he understands and can empathize with weakness, pain and rejection. This rejection that Jesus experienced was especially difficult because these were his people…especially the religious leaders! The had the inside information and they should have known, but they didn’t. Jesus can empathize with our rejection…from family, friends, and his own people.
This is so important to remember because I know some of you have stayed away from God, you’ve distanced yourself or have even been angry with him because of the rejection you are experiencing. Whatever you are going through today, regarding the hurt of rejection you can rest assured that Jesus understands exactly what you are going through.
After Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Jesus followers gain momentum as they proclaim his resurrection and they new life that is available for all those who put their faith in him. There is even this take of new life, being made new, and learning how to be a new human, and a place to belong is truly Good News…and people flock to it! All kinds of people, which is really a unique thing in the first century Roman Empire where there were very distinct classes and they didn’t really mix. It was a culture of division. Then this Jesus movement begins to grow and it has a huge appeal to who? Those who were rejected. Outsiders.
Think of it. In a culture that was very polarized, all of a sudden you had a group of people where at the same table would sit a rich nobleman, a slave, a Jew, Greek business woman, and a Roman centurion. Everyone was equal. You may be rejected in the culture, but in the community of Jesus people you belonged. Think of carrying the burden of rejection, and then you find a community of people who said that you belonged. Wow! That is one of the many reasons why the church grew so rapidly! “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”
The NT writers pick up on this and write about it… a lot! With the time we have left, I want to look at on section of a letter the apostle Peter writes about this issue of rejection. (1 Peter 2:4-7)
1 Peter 2:4–7 NIV
As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,”

2. Like Jesus, His Followers Will Be Rejected.

We can’t overlook this truth. Jesus said as much. The apostles said the same thing. If they rejected Jesus, then they will reject you…it’s just the way it is until Jesus returns. A lot of you already know this. There are a lot of people who will look at you differently once they find out your a Christian. There are people who will judge you or discriminate against you because you love Jesus. Maybe even people in your own family. If they did it to Jesus who had no sin, then they most certainly will do it do us.
Even though you maybe rejected by people, you are precious to God. You are valuable. You are worth it. The stone the builders rejected as become the cornerstone.
You are precious to God. If you’ve been rejected because you’ve been labeled a failure, mistake, stupid or worthless…you’re precious to God, he will never put you to shame. If you’ve been rejected because you’ve made too many mistakes, hurt someone, lied, said something you shouldn’t have…you’re precious to God and he will never put you to shame. If you’ve been rejected because you’ve sinned so bad, you’re addicted, lost, and depressed…you’re precious to God, he will never put you to shame.
People may reject you, you may even reject yourself, but to God you are a precious stone. Perfect for what he is building and crafting. What is he building?
“you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house”
This spiritual house is the church…not a building, but a people. People who have been rejected, yet through Jesus have found belonging.

3. For Those Who’ve Been Rejected, The Church Is A Place To Belong.

As we have learned very well through this pandemic, the church isn’t a building, it’s a people, it’s you. More specifically, it’s people who have been rejected, and have found life in Jesus, and as Peter says…has become a priesthood. As a follower of Jesus, have you ever considered yourself a priest? Probably not. What is the role of a priest? The priest is this connecting point between God and people. If Christians are priests then what is one of the ways that we can carry out our priesthood? To let rejected people know that they belong to God. To create a place for those who have been rejected by their peers, family, spouse, job, or just life…to find a place to belong.
In a world of rejects, in a community of loners, in a culture of losers…struggling with identity, loneliness, doubt and depression do you know what they need more then anything? They need to know that they can belong. Through Jesus we can all find a place to belong.
If you don’t get anything else today, get this: If you give your life over to Jesus, not only will you find a place to belong, but you can rest assured that he will never, ever reject you.
Here are some ways you can begin to live this truth out in your own life.

You:

Come to Jesus.
Verse four of what Peter was writing says this: “As you come to him, the living Stone”. If your life right just feels like one rejection after another, or maybe you are reeling from the rejection of a friend, family member or spouse…I know that it’s going to be really hard to trust. So, for me to say, “Well just come to Jesus and everything is going to be alright.” That’s probably not what you need to hear, because recovering from rejection and learning to trust again, even if it’s Jesus.
This last week I watched a video of a veterinarian help an abused dog learn how to eat again. The poor dog had been so abused that it wouldn’t even eat…so the veterinarian got into the kennel with the dog. He brought with him a dog bowl that looked just like the dogs…and then he began to eat right next to the dog, talking with him and showing the dog what to do. It was a powerful way to show empathy and understanding to the dog, and yes the dog started to eat.
I get it’s hard to trust. There is risk involved, but trusting Jesus is different because he knows what it’s like to be rejected. He’s been in your shoes, and he overcame. That’s someone who you can trust. If you are ready to begin the journey to belonging, I would love to talk with you about some of the next steps you can take to learn how to trust Jesus.
2. How Can You Help A Person Who Has Experienced Rejection, Find Belonging?
Your greatest ministry in the kingdom of God may to simply be to help outsiders feel like insiders. To always have your radar tuned into those who are down and out. To be paying attention to those who have been rejected, no matter what the reason, and in turn, befriending them. This doesn’t even mean you have to be someone’s best friend. All it means is helping those who have been cast to the side and letting them know that through Jesus they can belong. Who do you know in your life who is dealing with rejection? How can you reach out to them this week and let them know that through Jesus, there is a place to belong?
If you give your life over to Jesus, not only will you find a place to belong, but you can rest assured that he will never, ever reject you.
Here’s what can happen if we all embrace this truth.

We:

A few years ago, a guy in our church first attended. He later admitted to be that he was hung over but felt like he wanted to start exploring faith in God again. He told me that on that first Sunday service he attended, we played a video with people in the church giving their testimony, and their was a tatted up couple who didn’t look the traditional part, and they were talking about why they loved their church. Their testimony had a big impact on this person, and it began a long journey of helping him surrender his life over to Jesus. Why? Because he found a place where he could belong. If they church accepted tatted folks, they would accept him too…right?
In a world that is sceptical and even critical of the church and it’s message, one thing is never going to change: people who have been rejected. If they can find belonging in Jesus’ church…they just might believe as well.
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