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Media coverage of the college admissions scandal, which included several notable business figures and at least two Hollywood actresses, has captivated many folks over the last few weeks. These sensational stories have caused not a few people to wonder what could motivate someone to pay insane amounts of money to cheat the system and get their children into their college of choice.
Among the chief factors, in my view, is fear of rejection. No one, least of all the rich and famous, like to be rejected. In fact, fear of rejection is a motivation for many foolish things we do. Rejection hurts, and all us have no doubt experienced rejection in both our professional and personal lives.
Jesus Christ knew what it was like to be rejected. He was rejected by religious leaders of his day, men who were threatened by his popularity and turned off by his teaching abut the kingdom of God.
Jesus was even rejected by his own friends and neighbors. Mark 6:1-7 records the reaction of many in Nazareth, Jesus’ hometown, when his ministry reached there. They were largely incredulous as he cast out demons and healed the sick. They asked themselves, “Isn’t this the carpenter?”
Jesus did not let their rejection discourage him from his appointed mission, and those who follow him must likewise expect rejection, but be undeterred by it. This is easier said than done, but there are a few lessons the Bible teaches us about rejection that will be helpful to learn.
First, the Bible teaches that all people have rejected God. He created us to bring glory, but we have instead chosen to pursue our own path. Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned — every one — to his own way.”
The Bible calls this willful rejection of God sin, and the end of that sin is certain death and separation from God forever. There are real and tragic consequences to rejecting God, but in this life and in eternity to come.
Second, the Bible teaches that God has not rejected people. Despite our willful betrayal, God did not leave us in our sin. The whole Bible, in fact, is the story of how God, over thousands of years, worked his will in human lives and ultimately displayed his purpose in the coming of his Son, our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. By sending Jesus, God signaled that far from rejecting sinful man, God wanted us to be rescued. Perhaps the most well-known Bible verse of all expresses it this way: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Third, we experience God’s acceptance and love when we trust in Christ by faith. In rejecting God, we embraced unrighteousness. But Christ took the penalty of our sin, our rejection, by dying on the cross. When I embrace Christ, in God’s eyes his righteousness becomes mine. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”
God proved his love for me by sending his son to die on the cross for my sin. To experience acceptance, I only need to embrace that reality and trust in Christ. I don’t have to earn my way back to God by something I do; in Christ, he has already accepted me. I am grateful that I need never to fear rejection again, for nothing can separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus my Lord (Romans 8:39).
Jason Hall is the education pastor at Richland Creek Community Church. He and his family have lived in the Wake Forest area for more than 17 years, and he is twice a graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.