That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life...
Philippians 2:15-16a

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Trying Not To Take It Personally

Rejection is no fun.  It's heartbreaking... devastating.  Yet the Bible says that the world will hate us for Jesus' sake (John 15:18-19).  Actually, rejection from the world doesn't bother me that much.  I expect it.  What's difficult is when Christians reject you.  Actually, it's more than difficult.  It's painful, devastating, and disheartening.  It makes you feel like crawling into bed, pulling the covers over your head, crying uncontrollably, and never getting up again.  Why even bother being a Christian when it's the Christians who are against you!!!!

Sorry if I sound like a drama queen, but if you've been rejected, you know it happens and the hurt it causes.  I mean, Christians are the ones that are supposed to be on your side!  They're the ones that are supposed to support you, but that's not always the way it happens.  I can remember being scoffed at for trying to live for Christ.  I've had Christians tell me I only had certain beliefs because my parent's told me I had no choice.  That hurt.  It hurt because my beliefs were sincere convictions from the Holy Spirit, and I was being ridiculed for them... by Christians!!  There's something so wrong with that.  Sometimes Christians hurt each other deeply.  Sometimes it's intentional, and sometimes it's not.  Either way, we're supposed to live peaceably with all men (Rom 12:18), and that means encouraging each other, not ridiculing and getting angry with each other.

It's hard not to take rejection personally.  It's hard not to be offended by it.  It's hard not to get bitter.  It's hard not to want to get even.  It's hard not to be rude and un-Christlike.  It's hard to love someone who over and over again hurts you and treats you badly.  It's especially hard when the person hurting you and treating you badly claims to be a Christian.  And yet, God commands us to love those people.  There's no "exception clause" in we ought also to love one another (I John 4:11b). 

We need to be so careful how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ.  The Bible speaks much of encouragement, edification, and exhortation.  We shouldn't be rejecting a brother or sister in Christ just because they offend us or because we don't like something about them.  It happens so easily.  I've done it.  We make up stories in our minds about people, and suddenly, we're offended and treating that person with contempt.  

I remember once when I got offended at someone.  I was telling my Mom about it, and she mentioned a verse in Proverbs. The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression (Pro. 19:11).  Sometimes we just need to pass over those transgressions and defer our anger.  Maybe the person didn't mean it the way it came out.  Maybe they were thinking of something totally different.  Maybe we just misunderstood.  Maybe they did cause offence, but it's not worth holding a grudge over.  Maybe I'm offended because of a flaw in my character that I need to work on.   It's so easy to see everyone else as wrong and ourselves as right.  Eventually, what might have been a little offence, becomes a big offence.  We make a mountain out of a molehill because we let it fester, instead of passing over it.  Sometimes if we defer our anger and give the situation time, we'll come to find out that it wasn't what we thought at all.  According to Proverbs it's actually a glorious thing to pass over a transgression.  That's neat :).  I love how God's Word has promises like this.  The world says get even, but God says it's glorious to let it go.

I find that when I'm rejected it offends and hurts me.   However, I have to remember that when people reject me for my Christian beliefs, it's not me they are rejecting, it's Christ.  Even though I know that ultimately it's Christ they are rejecting, it's still hard not to take it personally.  Sometimes I think it's good to take rejection on a personal level because it makes me re-examine my relationship with the Lord.  If I'm following Him to the best of my ability, then that's all that matters.  

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