If there’s anything you’ve noticed in the last couple of Holiness Matters blog posts, and perhaps in every one of them, we aren’t welcome in this world. It’s not that everyone we know treats us rudely us or is out to get us.
It’s that we just don’t fit in. When we are living for Jesus and not allowing any compromise, we will find ourselves enemies of the world. As James told us, we are friends of the world we’re friends of God (James 4:4). Once we serve God, the world will take notice.
In America, the persecution and rejection may be mild. But it depends on how much we stick out. God looks for a peculiar people because he is also unique, and we are like him. When we live the high standards God sets, the world will disagree with us.
Jesus told us to expect persecution because the world persecuted him (Matthew 5:10-12). If we are being conformed to his image, the world will persecute us. This world isn’t our home and we don’t treat it like our final destination.
The stances we make put us in the minority. They put a target on our backs. At some point, even if we love our enemies and treat everyone with respect because they bear God’s image, we will run into rejection, mild or severe.
No one likes to be the odd man out. We want to get along with everyone. We want to feel like we belong even if we don’t. I can remember several times when I was a kid in school facing rejection. Children don’t mince words, and they don’t beat around the bush. They let you know what they think.
It was no different for me growing up, legally blind with Coke bottle size classes, a known Christian who was later president of our Bible Club for two years, very short, and carrying around a laptop (the only legally blind kid in school with this special accessibility tool).
Only part of that had to do with being a Christian, but the rejection hurt just as much. So how do I deal with it? Well, I made friends with other people in the same rejection circle. It’s not that we formed a coalition against all the popular people and went to war. We just hung out with each other.
There was a camaraderie among the rejected. We understood each other, and what rejection felt like. But this isn’t the only way to handle rejection. Sometimes I fought back. This wasn’t my brightest idea, and it didn’t end well.
It’s not that I planned to fight back. It’s human nature to defend yourself and even try to go on the offensive. Going on the offensive only made me offensive. It wasn’t my intention, but I was sick and tired of the way they treated me.
As Christians, going on the offensive, at least to fight, is not an attractive option. Everybody remembers the Crusades even though they were hundreds of years ago. No Christian I know today would opt for that.
And yet it’s the first thing people think of us when we hear the word, “Christian.” That did not work out well for us. We still bear the decisions and actions of past Christians, even though we had nothing to do with that time.
So we end up taking on characteristics, the immediate things people in the world think of, when we take the name, “Christian.” Some Christians try to call themselves something else, rebranding themselves as “Christ follower” or “Jesus people.”
That may throw people off or make them think differently about us for a while, but then they realize we are still Christians. It’s nice when they give us a shot to speak for ourselves instead of carry the weight of the entire past of Christianity into a conversation.
Some of these tactics may help us avoid rejection at least for a while, but when we must face rejection, we need some tactics that will help us face rejection the way Jesus did. So here are some ways we can face rejection and still glorify God:
- Get Plugged into Church. A great cloud of witnesses surrounds every believer. In the moments where we feel beat down and rejected by this world, we can turn to the warm fellowship of one another. It’s a dark, cold world out there but we can share our experiences, pray for one another, and the life together. You may face rejection outside of the church, but inside you should find love and acceptance.
- Be Genuine in Your Conversation. One of the biggest labels people love to put on Christians is a “Hypocrite.” Anyone can pick up on fake talk or kindness. So let’s avoid being the fake or plastic person. When you speak to others, be present and honest.
- Show Your Faith. We don’t have to be pushy or angry when we talk about Jesus. That’s what the world is used to seeing. Find your comfort zone in witnessing. Use your own story about what Jesus has done for you.
- Show Jesus’ Love. You may be the only person they ever meet who represents Jesus. The old phrase, “He Jesus with skin on” may be a cliché but the message is real. It’s hard to love your enemies, but this is what Jesus teaches us. This might be the best tactic to bring people around to who you truly are. They may judge you at first but if they listen, they’ll meet the real you.
- Don’t Black Down. Many Christians react to rejection by avoiding confrontation. Don’t salute away in your corner. We have a powerful message to bring to the world. And we have the voice to bring it. They can’t bully or silence us because we’re Christians. Without select rude or militant, carry your own and stand your ground.
- Be Salt and Light. Jesus gives us the best ways to interact with the world in Matthew 5:13-16. Jesus told us to be salt in this world. Salt is a preservative. It preserves our speech and our actions for the world. But it also keeps our conversation fresh, something they’ve never heard before. Salt brings flavor to our conversations and actions. As light, we need to produce more revelation than heat. We’re not here to argue. We’re sure to show people something they’ve never seen before in the love and truth of Jesus.
- Forgive Persecution and Rejection. Don’t hold things in or let them fester inside. If a person mistreats you, forgive and love like Jesus. Even from the cross, one of the first things Jesus did was to forgive his enemies. He is our example of how to deal with persecution, rejection, and mistreatment.
Until we go home to heaven and Jesus’ presence, we will face persecution and rejection in this world. But we are not alone. There is a fellowship amongst like-minded Christians. Embrace who you are in Christ and use these rejection hacks to conquer fear of rejection.
What do you do when you feel rejected? How do you react to it? Leave a comment and share your rejection hacks.