If you have lived for any length of time on earth, you have dealt with rejection. Getting turned down for a date, not making the cut for a try out, getting passed over by a prospective job, or being laughed at by friends or family. Rejection has a way of hurting like few things do. However, when we are rejected for your faith, Jesus gives us special promises that can be great encouragements to us.
There are a series of statements found in 1 Peter 3:14-15 that help us with rejection. “But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed.” First of all, Peter encouraged us to remember that the blessings in our lives for doing the right thing and following God are not contingent on people’s opinions. The verse goes on give us further courage, “Do not fear their threats, do not be frightened”. Sometimes when people reject you, it can literally scare you. But Scripture says “The fear of man will prove to be a snare.” So, we can avoid that snare by fearing God and not man. In one of Paul’s letters, he states, “If I was living for the approval of men, I would not be a servant of God.” Peter actually hits on this concept with his next statement, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.” Why does he make this statement here? Because we can easily make an idol our of people’s approval. But Peter says, keep Christ on the throne of your heart and not what people think of you. Peter finishes by saying, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” This is exactly what we are called to do, make know Christ and prove His significance to all who are willing to hear.
And sometimes, when we share, people don’t like it. I can recall several times where I have been rejected for my faith. I will share a few stories here which hopefully will comfort you and help you in your witness.
My senior year of high school, many of my peers knew of my faith. I was leading the Christian club and had the opportunity to go one morning to go on the video announcements in front of the whole school and invite them to a Christian outreach event. As I walked into the lunch room that day, a classmate who I knew fairly well shouted, “Jesse, you’re nothing but a Jesus freak!” I was not able to respond but as I reflected, I thanked God for two things. One- he had notices my fervor for Christ and two- that I was being persecuted for righteousness.
Several years back I felt a prompting from God to share a Scripture with a gentleman across from me at Starbucks. I was hesitant but meditated on the Scripture and prayed for the courage to approach the man. I finally walked up to him and asked, “I was praying and felt God would like me to share a Scripture with you, can I share it with you?” The man looked at me and said simply and firmly, “No.” And that was it, I walked out of the Starbucks. While I felt discouraged afterward, I was glad that I acted on my faith instead of letting an opportunity pass me by. I rarely feel guilty for stepping out in faith, but have feel guilty plenty of times for passing up open doors God is giving me for the Gospel.
A number of weeks ago, I was at the mall and approached a young man and handed him a little pamphlet with the Gospel and a testimony contained in it. We had a very short encounter and I told him that I simply wanted to encourage him in his faith. The conversation did not go much further so I proceeded about my walk. A few minutes later, I received a text message on my phone from a gentleman who identified himself as the young man’s father. I initially thought the young man was in his adult years but realize now he could have been a teen. This is a copy of the message:
Certainly, the text took me back at first glance. But I quickly was reminded that Jesus’ name brings up these kinds of emotions in people. I do not have any anger toward this friend of mine, I love him. We can be amazed that such a simple pamphlet could create such a response. But we must keep in mind that the battle is spiritual. This simple Gospel seed has “stirred the hornet’s nest.” Thus, I pray that the blinders of the enemy are taken off his eyes and if he has been hurt by a church or believer, that he would be healed.
Here are 3 simple truths that I remind myself when faced with rejection when witnessing:
- We are getting just a taste of the rejection Jesus experienced. Remember, Jesus was ultimately crucified for the message He preached. And John the Baptism beheaded. I’m thankful I have not experienced these yet but feel closer to Christ when I am rejected for him.
- The only failure in evangelism is not sharing. This was an idea presented by Dr. Bill Bright who started campus crusade for Christ on college campuses. Our only duty is to share the good news, the individual’s response is out of our hands. We don’t save, we just share.
- Jesus said we are blessed if we are rejected for him and have a great reward in heaven because of that persecution. Blessing and heavenly rewards are pretty great consolation as we endure a few moments of emotional pain.
I pray that my words have encouraged you to be bold with the Gospel. I am willing to be rejected by everyone if it means one person can spend an eternity with God and I hope you are too! Remember, Jesus said, “If they hated me, they will hate you.” The cross will always be an offense to sinful humanity, but it is God’s power for salvation!