Rejection is no stranger to any of us; we all have experienced it. Regardless of how much talent, pizazz, wit, good looks, or brains one might have…everyone experiences rejection in life. There are so many different areas of life that can lead to potential rejection: rejected in a job interview, rejected in regards to a pay raise, rejected from the job promotion, rejected for a loan, rejected by that person you have always wanted to date, rejected by a friend…all of us have been there. There has never been a person in the history of mankind who did not experience rejection. Experiencing rejection is one thing, dealing with it and accepting it… that is another.
Two questions I want to ask today are: “Have you ever been rejected in soul winning or evangelism?” And, “How did you deal with that rejection?” If your first reaction is to say that you have never been rejected in evangelism, then my friend, try doing it more than once. Rejection is no stranger to evangelism; in fact, it is a daily component of it. No matter how many Scriptures, how many methods, how many approaches, or how much experience you have…rejection is in some cases, inevitable. Have you been there? Have you gone out on that limb to talk to a co-worker, friend, or family member about God or about the Gospel, just to be rejected or shut down by the end of the conversation? GOOD! You are joining a pretty great group of people. Though every single follower of God has experienced this same rejection, I want to focus on a select few individuals that I think will help us see that there is GLORY in rejection.
God the Father, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibenevolent Creator of all things…was rejected. He gave Adam and Eve everything, a paradise to live in (Genesis 2:8-16). He gave the angels His very presence in Heaven (Luke 10:18). He gave the Israelites freedom and a covenant (Exodus 6:6). He ruled the Israelites as their King (1 Samuel 8:7). He gave us a perfect sacrifice (John 3:16). He did all of this and each time was rejected in return. Adam and Eve, who would rather have the knowledge of good and evil than to obey God, rejected Him (Genesis 3:6). Satan and his angels, who would rather exalt themselves above God than to obey Him, rejected Him (Isaiah 14:12-14). The Israelites, who would rather return back to Egyptian bondage and get a new king than obey Him, rejected Him (Numbers 14:4; 1 Samuel 8:7). We, who would rather follow the doctrines of men than the Doctrine of God, are often guilty of rejecting Him (Colossians 2:22-23).
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Messiah, Immanuel, our Lord and Savior…was rejected. “He came into His own, and His own did not receive Him,” John 1:11. “For even His brothers did not believe in Him,” John 7:5. “And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region,” Matthew 8:34. “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you,” John 15:18. “But first He must suffer many things and be REJECTED by this generation. And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will also be in the days of the Son of Man,” Luke 17:25-26. “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders REJECTED has become the Chief Cornerstone,’” Matthew 21:42. “He is despised and REJECTED by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him,” Isaiah 53:3.
The mouthpieces of God who were the connection between God and man, who spoke on behalf of God and were the mediator of that relationship, the prophets…all of them were rejected. When it comes to how the prophets were received in the Old Testament, Stephen sums it up perfectly in Acts 7:51-53, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” Jeremiah gives another great example of the reception prophets received in Jeremiah 6:10, “To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Indeed their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot give heed. Behold, the Word of the Lord is a reproach to them; they have no delight in it.”
There are dozens of more examples that we can read of, so many that we could say like the Hebrews writer, “What more shall I say? For the time would fail me to tell of…” Hebrews 11:32. The message we should take away from this is we are inherently going to be rejected in soul winning and evangelism. God was rejected, Jesus was rejected, and every prophet who ever lived was rejected. We too are going to be rejected. How we handle this rejection can either lead us to “Try, try again,” or can lead us to give up and never try again.
I know this is easier said than done, but we cannot allow rejection to keep us from trying again. As Babe Ruth said, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.” So many of us may have tried one time many years ago to evangelize, and because of that feeling of rejection have let it keep us from ever trying again. What if God had done that when He was rejected? What if Jesus had done that when He was rejected? What if the prophets had done that when they were rejected? Lastly, what will the future of the Lord’s Church look like if we give up on evangelism and soul winning because of rejection?
The Word of God comforts me whenever I find myself discouraged because of the rejection I experience in evangelism: “He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent me,” Luke 10:16. “Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit,” 1 Thessalonians 4:8. The glory in rejection is that though I could be rejected every day of my life by those I am trying to bring to the Lord, I can know in my heart and my soul that I am only trying to do the will of the Father. I can know that God is proud of me and that being rejected by men allows me to join all the men and women of God who went before me. At the end of the day, the world may reject you and me, but God never will, “For the Lord will not reject His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance,” Psalm 94:14.
-Ben Hogan, Minister of Evangelism