A Pervasive Fear
How many great novels lie hidden on hard drives, never submitted to a publisher? How many fine actors find something else to do when auditions for a great play with a part just right for them is announced? How many wonderful songs are packed away in guitar cases under beds somewhere? Who can tell the number of really good singers with great hearts for God who sit in the congregation instead of joining the choir or worship team because to do so would require the risk of an audition or interview?

The cause of all these wasted treasures is the fear of rejection.

Nothing hurts the sensitive person quite like being rejected. When the rejection seems unfair or unkind the hurt goes even deeper. I knew of a worship team of excellent singers and players who were taken off the church platform to make room for professionals. They went to a different ministry in the same church and called themselves, “The Rejects.”

It takes courage to put yourself out there for some expert to judge. At the very best is unpleasant for both the one auditioning and ones doing the judging. At the worst it can be a sickening ordeal for everyone involved. Talent must be found. Competent artists must have a pathway into a system that will need their abilities. The risk of being rejected is real and unavoidable.

Not for artists only
The fear of rejection is not limited to the arts; each one of us must take the risk of being rejected as we walk through life. Elementary schools try to manage the pain of the students who are not selected by giving everyone a trophy. OK. But the kids who did poorly know they did poorly. The teams that scored the fewest points somehow know they lost the game. Rejection, being listed among the losers, is a fact of life for just about everyone at some time.

The risk of not being chosen extends beyond school years to all of life:

  • Finding someone to date,
  • Applying for Jobs,
  • Interviewing for jobs,
  • Seeking promotion on the job,
  • Getting credit for a major purchase,
  • Sitting first chair in the community band, and so on.

The fearful among us will shrink to the background to avoid any risk of rejection that isn’t absolutely necessary.

“He was rejected.”
The pre-incarnate Jesus knew that when He laid aside His heavenly crown and came to live among us, He was entering the painful realm of inevitable rejection.

  • As a carpenter, I am sure some patrons rejected His shop for the one down the street.
  • As a family member Jesus was rejected by His brothers and sisters until after the resurrection. After the death of Joseph only His mother was true to Him.
  • He traveled among the people with healing in His touch, authority in His words, and the creative power in His prayer to feed a multitude a good lunch. The next day, most of them rejected Him.
  • He walked into the Temple of the Father and found rejection from the leaders—rejection—hostility—slander—and finally a death plot.
  • In the Garden of prayer His sleepy disciples were unable to watch with Him for even an hour and when the soldiers came Peter and the rest of them ran away.
  • No one spoke to His defense in the trials that night.
  • On the cross, when laden with the sin of all mankind, even the Father could not look upon Him.
  • He was totally alone.

The reality is that for all of us there will be

  • parts we actors don’t get,
  • ensembles we musicians cannot join,
  • jobs and the raises that we do not qualify for, and
  • a multitude of little rejections that make us tremble and hide from the potential pain.

Nothing we experience will ever come close the rejection Jesus knew.

Why? Because He loves us and because He came to share our pain so that, when we believe in Him, He can share with us His victory. We will be accepted by Him.

Isaiah 53:3-5 NIV
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.

from The Book of Common Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, You stretched out Your arms of love on the hard wood of the cross that everyone might come within the reach of Your saving embrace: So clothe us in Your Spirit that we, reaching forth our hands in love, may bring those who do not know You to the knowledge and love of You; for the honor of your Name. Amen.

Hallelujah, What a Savior!
Words and Music: P.P. Bliss

1. Man of sorrows what a name for the Son of God, who came
ruined sinners to reclaim: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

2. Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood,
sealed my pardon with his blood: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

3. Guilty, helpless, lost were we; blameless Lamb of God was he,
sacrificed to set us free: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

4. He was lifted up to die; “It is finished” was his cry;
now in heaven exalted high: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

5. When he comes, our glorious King, all his ransomed home to bring,
then anew this song we’ll sing: Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

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