Allen Jackson - Freedom From Rejection - Part 2
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It's good to be with you today. We're gonna complete our discussion on "Freedom from Rejection". All of us know what it feels like to be left out, to feel like everybody else got invited in, and somehow, we weren't given the instructions we needed or to be as if you stand apart from the activity that everybody else is involved in. Nobody gets through life without rejection, but it doesn't have to have the power to determine our future. God has made a way that you and I can know the opposite of rejection, and that's to be accepted. If the Creator of heaven and earth accepts us, he loves us and believes in us, we can be free. It's a great opportunity to grab your Bible and a notepad, but, most importantly, open your heart.
Now, what I wanna do in this session is acknowledge some of the wounds that we take, we receive, as we make our way through time. Nobody is excluded, no one is excluded. Some people may handle it better than others. Some may be more adept with makeup. Some may have enough ways to deflect or to redirect. Nobody makes it through time without struggling with these challenges, and I just brought three. We looked at a couple in a previous session. We talked about guilt and shame and their impact upon us. I believe the greatest weapon Satan uses against God's people is guilt, but I don't have time to recapitulate that message. You can listen to it. It's somewhere in the cloud, or I don't know. Somebody smarter will help you find it.
The third one, it's the one I wanna focus on with our remaining time, is rejection. Rejection. It touches all of our lives. Nobody gets through without this, and it doesn't just touch our lives. It impacts how we relate with one another and relate to our world and relate to God. You need a plan for overcoming the wound. Ignoring it's not sufficient. Denying it's not adequate. The opposite of rejection would be acceptance, so what we would prefer is to be accepted, celebrated, lauded, approved. The synonyms for "rejection" would be things like "to be excluded," "the feeling of being unwanted, not really belonging," "somehow, being on the outside". Rejection feels like, "Everybody else got the manual on how to do this, but they didn't give me the copy".
Does life come with instructions? Then you feel like, somehow, other people are just better prepared. They got an advantage that wasn't given to you. It could be because of an accent, a hair color, the color of your skin, where you were educated or where you weren't. Whole host of things can feed this, but rejection is an epidemic amongst human beings, that, if you don't understand it and have a plan for addressing it, it will shape your response to life and diminish what God will do through you. We can be made holy. We can be delivered from that rejection because of what our Messiah has done for us. Remember, God placed on him our iniquity, all the consequences for sin, not just my sin, the consequences for sin. The redemptive work of Jesus delivers us from the consequence of sin, not just mine. It starts really early in our lives.
Parents, we'd be far better served, helping our children understand their spiritual freedom than trying to protect them from instances of rejection. We work really hard so they won't be put in a place where they'll suffer that. Folks, it comes with the trip. I don't wanna diminish your love or your concern or your protection for your children, but they'll be better served if you will teach them spiritual principles to stay spiritually strong and spiritually clean and spiritually free. It'll be more beneficial. If all you do is protect them, they'll lack the strength physically, emotionally, or spiritually to flourish when they find those circumstances from which you can no longer protect them, and those circumstances are coming. They're inevitable. But let's start with this idea, and it's the value that God attaches to you. While you're demanding your way, while you want a relationship, an outcome, an objective, a life achievement, and you see the people between you and that as bullies, intimidating, withholding, the seed of evil, your outcome is being threatened.
I wanna ask you if you'll have the courage to believe what God has said about you. In Romans 15, in verse 7, it says, "Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you". Christ accepted you. The Creator of heaven and earth has accepted you. "Yeah, but this person..." The Creator of heaven and earth has accepted you. Look at the next verse, it's Ephesians 2: "We are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do". You are God's workmanship. God doesn't make junk. "Yeah, but I wanted to have the physical skills of a professional athlete". "I'm God's workmanship". "But I wanted..." "I'm God's workmanship".
You see, a part of overcoming in the spiritual conflict is being willing to yield my will, my demand, my expectation. So many of the wounds I accumulate come in that conflict between the demands of my carnal nature and the reality of this broken world in which I live. I'm God's workmanship. God said, "You're fearfully and wonderfully made". Try that one on in front of the mirror while you're analyzing all the things that aren't right. What can you have fixed? The calendar is attacking your body. If that doesn't mean anything to you, just wait. It's comin' for you. I'm God's workmanship all the way through my journey in time and every season of life, created in Christ Jesus to do good works for him. God prepared them in advance before I drew my first breath, before my parents assigned a name to me, before I went to first grade. God had plans for your life. Stand a little taller.
Look at Psalm 68: "God sets the lonely in families. God sets the lonely in families". That's translated a handful of ways. Hebrew is an old language. There's some ambiguity in it sometimes when we pull it forward, but the essence is "God does not leave you alone. God does not leave you desperate and alone". He will place you in community. And some of you say, "Yeah, but look at the family he placed me in". Folks, every family tree has a few fruits and nuts. "God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing, but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land". Don't rebel against God. You have to value what God says about you more than you demand your way. You see, when you're demanding your way, standing in your selfishness, you're just adding a multiplier, you're adding a momentum to those spiritual attacks against you. Choose to align yourself by your belief, by your yielding to the authority of God with what God has said about you.
This is not new to us. I think it's epidemic proportion in our current culture, but I don't think it's a new thing. In fact, I spent some time in these last few days just reflecting on my heroes in Scripture and what they had to overcome. In Exodus chapter 2, this is Moses, and I'm gonna tell you what my objective is in reading this. I wanna do anything I can do encourage you to overcome the attitude of a victim. It's so prevalent. "I've been mistreated". "Someone has not done right by me". Folks, yes, that's it. That's what it means to be alive under the sun. Now here's the question: What are we gonna do with that? From whom are we demanding recompense? Where did we imagine the resolutions coming from: the government, a policy, a law, a counselor, or God? That attitude is settled so deeply over us and so deeply within us as if it's never happened before.
You, see, the people that are perpetrating it, and, understand, it is being perpetrated, are trying to make you believe you're unique, that no one else has ever felt like that, that what you're enduring is almost entirely without historical perspective, that, somehow, you've been singled out for this unfair, unfortunate thing; when, in reality, it's the nature of the journey. It's like your ears popping when you fly. Doesn't mean you're going deaf. It means you're on a plane, changing altitude. Doesn't mean your ears are wrong. You don't need an ENT. You need to learn how to clear your ears. We need to learn how to be clean. We need to learn how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that we can be more completely transformed into the image of Christ, that we can learn how to lead more holy lives, not more passive lives, not more withdrawn lives. We've been holding the wrong people, the wrong things accountable.
Look in Exodus chapter 2. Moses, pretty supernatural character. Moses as a young man, "One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were". Moses's parents abandoned him in a river. You can come with your fancy explanations, but that's the short course. No, they didn't kill him when he was born. They just abandoned him in the river. And he grows up with his ethnicity being hidden, being treated as if he's a part of Pharaoh's household, so he's included amongst the household of those who are abusing, enslaving his own people, and they asked him to hide his ethnicity. That could leave you a bit torqued, you think? "He went out to where his own people were and he watched them at their labor, their hard labor, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. So he looked around," see if anybody was watching, "and he killed the Egyptian, hid the body. The next day he went out to see two Hebrews fighting, and he asked the one in the wrong, 'Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?'"
He has a compassion for his people. And watch the answer: "Who made you ruler and judge over us"? "Just who do you think you are"? "Well, now that you asked, I'm the one that risked his entire future interceding on your behalf yesterday, you ingrate. I put the entire story of my existence at risk, standing up for you. No, 'thank you,' no gratitude, no appreciation, no applause". "Who made you ruler over us"? Does that feel like rejection to you? It does me. Moses has to run for his life. Not only did his best attempt to do the right thing not get a good outcome, it cost him everything. He lost his pension, he lost his health care, he lost his home, he lost every relationship, he lost everything. The only thing he escaped with was his life.
You think, "Yeah, but it worked out okay". Yeah, it did, but that experience is repeated over and over. I could do, we could fill pages with the repetition of that in Moses's life. I brought you one example, Numbers 12: "Miriam and Aaron," they're his family, they share DNA, "began to talk against Moses..." Now, by this point, they're way out of Egypt. Red Sea has been parted. They've had water from the rock. They're chewin' on manna. They got manna stuck in their teeth. They eat quail because they wanted a change, a little variety in their diet. Moses has gone up the mountain and come back down with the Ten Commandments. He glows in the dark. He spent so much time with the Lord. God talks to him face-to-face.
"And Miriam and Aaron began to talk against Moses," because they didn't like his wife. That's what it says. And their question was "Has the Lord spoken only through Moses? Hasn't he spoken through us too"? Does that feel like rejection to you? "Who do you think you are? What do you think you're doing"? It's not unique to Moses. It went throughout his life. Some of you prefer Samuel. We've been reading these chapters in our daily Bible reading. Samuel is the last of the judges. He's a prophet, but he's the last of the leaders of Israel when it's a theocracy when God oversees the nation. They had no central government. They had no capital city. There was no king. There was no monarch over them. It was a theocracy. God watched over his people, and as long as they chose to honor the Lord, he protected them. They prospered under his guidance, and the leaders, the tribal leaders come to Samuel. He's an old man by this time.
You'd be a little more vulnerable to this kind of banter in this season of your life. "All the elders of Israel gathered together, and they came to Samuel, and they said to him, 'You're old.'" Well, jeez, that feels like ageism to me. He looked at 'em and said, "And you're ugly, so, okay". They said, "You're old, and your sons don't walk in your ways. You're not only old, you're a bad parent. You haven't watched over your household well". He spent his life serving these people. "Now appoint a king to lead us. We wanna be like the other nations". It says, "When they said, 'Give us a king to lead us,' it displeased Samuel". No kidding. The Bible has a gift of understatement. He wanted to slap them into next week, I mean, in the God-honoring kind of a way. "This displeased Samuel, so he prayed to the Lord, and the Lord told him, 'Listen to all that the people are saying to you. It's not you they've rejected. They've rejected me.'"
You know what disobedience to the Lord is fundamentally? We reject him. "We don't want your authority. We don't want your intrusion. I don't want your opinion. I don't care what you think". "Samuel, they didn't reject you. They rejected me". Well, you know why he has to tell Samuel that? Because Samuel's certain he's the one that's being rejected. He's confident. God does a work in Samuel's heart. He anoints the next kings, not just the first one. He anoints the one after that. Think that might've been a little awkward to have to go to anoint Saul, stand him in front of the people and say, "This is the man God's chosen to lead you"? They still need Samuel's wisdom, his attentiveness to the Lord, his willingness to follow the Spirit of God to secure their future.
Now, I wanna give you the remedy. I got two minutes, and then we're gonna take Communion together. Look at Isaiah 53. Jesus is intervening on our behalf. We'll pick this up later, I promise. Says, "He was despised," this is the Messiah. "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar was suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not". Remember, we read earlier, our iniquities were placed on him? Now Isaiah begins to break them out with some specificity, the consequences of sin. He was rejected. He understood sorrow. He understood suffering. You'll understand those things. They will touch your life, but they're not wounds that have to flourish and fester and shape your future. You can be healed. "God, I forgive, I release, I set them free".
Doesn't mean you have to get back in line for further abuse, but don't carry that. Why? "Why" is more complex than we have time for in this moment. Jesus took those consequences. Acts chapter 2, it's the day of Pentecost. Peter's talkin' to the crowd in Jerusalem, "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth, a man accredited by God to you, miracles, wonders and signs, God did among you. You know this, that he was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge. God handed him over to you, and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross". Jesus took our rejection. The people that should've accepted him, all he did was do miracles and raise the dead and open blind eyes, the sinless, obedient Son of God, and we rejected him. We wanted nothing to do with him. We crucified him. He took our rejection, that we could be accepted.
Jesus, in Psalm 22, these are the words Jesus quotes when he's on the cross, but it came from the Psalms. He said, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me"? He said it in Aramaic, and it's translated in two of the gospels, but "Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning"? Jesus suffered rejection that you and I can be accepted by Almighty God, by Almighty God. "Why do people have to be mean"? "Why does life have to be cruel"? Folks, we're in a battle. That means, by definition, "It's not fair". If you're fighting fair, the outcome doesn't mean much. That's athletics. In athletics, you have to win or lose. If it's a real battle, you just need to learn to win.
Hebrews 10:14, is where we started: "Because by one sacrifice he's made perfect forever those who are being made holy". I gave you a prayer. We might as well pray it together, then we'll do Communion. I really am gonna quit. You'll wanna take this prayer with you. One reading of this will not, more than likely, land you in the place where you wanna stay. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to see the times and places where you've suffered rejection. You'll know some of them, and then to begin to identify your responses, the resentment or the anger or the desire for someone else to change or the certainty that the remedy is beyond you.
Folks, don't give that away. "God, I trust you to work your purposes in my life. I trust you to work your purposes in my life. I wanna be obedient to you". Forgiveness isn't an emotion. It's a decision. Forgiveness does not mean that the other person gets away with it. "I trust God, he's just". Your willingness to forgive is about you and the outcomes of your life. It untethers you from the event or the events, sets you free. Resentment keeps you grounded in that place, reliving it over and over and over again. Bitterness and hatred, you just can't afford them. Let's read this prayer together:
God, I thank you that you love me, that you gave Jesus, your Son, to die on my behalf, that he bore my sins, that he took my rejection, that he took my penalty. Because I come to you through him, I am not unwanted, I am not excluded. I belong to the family of God. I belong to the best family in the universe. Heaven is my home, and I thank you today, amen.