I’m not keen on being rejected. As a rule, I strive hard to do the right thing and say the right thing to avoid having that not-so-pleasant feeling of hurt sweep over me. This fear of rejection motivates me more than I care to admit; and now I can worry that I will be rejected for admitting that I fear being rejected. Not a good cycle, I know, but it’s a rutted trail my thoughts know well.
Personally, I would much rather have people on my side than opposing me, but relationships don’t always work out so well. Even saying and doing the right and perfect thing won’t prevent rejection. For the ultimate example, look no further than the life of the only perfect person who has ever lived.
Jesus knew exactly what to say, his heart motivation was always pure, and his actions were perfectly in tune with the will of his Father. Did this lead to a rejection-less life? Hardly.
The opposition was loud, “Crucify him, crucify him”; religious, think of the Pharisees and Sadducees; political, Herod and Pilate; personal, his own family and disciples; and powerful, soldiers and officials.
The opposition was expected. Three times in the book of Mark (8:31; 9:30-31; 10:32-34) Jesus predicts his coming death and resurrection. He predicts the falling away of the disciples and Peter’s denial in Mark 14:27-31, and the betrayal by Judas at the Last Supper in John 13:21.
Yet Jesus served this opposition in love. In John 13 prior to Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial and his own death, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. A most lowly task usually handled by a slave on the bottom rung was done by the the very image of the invisible God (Col 1:15) to the very people who were going to reject him in a few hours time.
This foot washing account always blows me away. If I think it likely someone is going to reject me, the last thing I want to do is be around them, let alone serve them. If I know they are going to reject me, I am going to grab the armor, not a servant’s towel. This is where I know Jesus came to teach and model a whole new way of thinking and living.
He boldly went forth and lived knowing full well the degree and extent to which he would be rejected. This is not to imply Jesus was masochistic for on numerous occasions he slipped through the crowd (Luke 4:30) or waited to go to Jerusalem because his time had not yet fully come (John 7:8). But actual rejection or the fear of being rejected didn’t motivate him or prevent him from taking action.
My heart has a long way to grow before washing the feet of my enemies and opposition comes naturally or comes to mind at all. If you reject me, I hope I will think first of grabbing a servant’s towel and basin, but don’t be too sure.
What do you find helpful when dealing with fear of rejection?
How do you process and respond to actual rejection?