Part 1: From Rejection to Acceptance
In my last letter, we looked at the definition of rejection. Simply defined, it is the sense of being unwanted, the feeling that although you want people to love you, it seems no one does. Or it is wanting to be a part of a group, but feeling excluded. This is common, even in Christian circles.
We went on to look at how Scripture portrays rejection. In particular, the poignant picture in Isaiah 54:6 of a brokenhearted married woman.
“‘For the LORD has called you like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, like a youthful wife, when you were refused,’ says your God.”
There are many other ways in which rejection can arise and different ways someone may react to them.
Now I want to talk to you particularly about the answer to the specific problem of rejection. I want to show you Scripture’s answer to this problem. And I will tell you something: it works! I have seen scores of lives radically changed. Not temporarily, not superficially, but radically.
Every solution God has for every problem in our life stems from the cross. The cross is where God provided the solution to all our problems, and Jesus dealt with this specific problem of rejection on the cross.
Years back (in fact, in 1943), the Lord told me through the gifts of the Spirit that I was to consider the work of Calvary—that it was a perfect work: perfect in every respect, perfect in every aspect. I have spent several decades considering the work of Calvary—what Jesus did on the cross—and every time I think I know it all, I discover something new.
Over the years, the Lord showed me one basic principle about the cross: that it was an exchange, a divinely appointed exchange. On the cross, to satisfy eternal, divine justice, God caused to meet together upon Jesus all the evil that was due by justice to the human race, so that in return, by faith, the one who repents and believes may receive all the good that is due by justice to Jesus. Jesus took the evil that we might receive the good. This is very simple, very basic, but when you once begin to understand it, it will open up endless avenues of blessing for your soul.
God made to meet together upon Jesus all the evil, so that we might receive all the good. And the longer I meditate on this, the more complete I see that the exchange was. Here are just a few aspects of the exchange:
“Jesus was punished for our sin that we might be forgiven. Jesus was wounded for our sicknesses that we might be healed. Jesus was made sickness itself that we might have health. Jesus became poor for our sakes that we might have His wealth. Jesus died our death that we might have His life.”
While I was meditating on this, God said to me, "There’s another side to that exchange. What about rejection?" In Isaiah 53:3 it says: “He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
For three and a half years Jesus gave His life totally to doing good: to forgiving sins, healing sicknesses, delivering the demon-oppressed. He did nothing but good. At the end of that period, His people to whom He belonged, the Jewish nation, were given a choice by their Roman ruler of which one they would prefer to have: Jesus of Nazareth or a criminal named Barabbas, who was guilty of political insurrection, robbery and murder. By one of the most amazing and tragic decisions in all human history, the entire nation, incited by their religious leaders, rejected Jesus and instead chose Barabbas, the political rebel.
They said, “Away with Jesus. Crucify Him! We don’t want Him! We’ll have Barabbas, the thief and the robber.” How did Jesus respond? He prayed to the Father to forgive those who were crucifying Him. He was not concerned about what was happening to Him. He was concerned about what would happen to them. The marvelous example of Jesus is that though He was in agony and rejection, He was not concerned about Himself. He was concerned about those who had rejected Him. What a pattern that is!
When I examined Jesus’ exchange on the cross in terms of the problem of rejection, I realized something startling—that although He was rejected by men, the final agony of Jesus on the cross was rejection by His Father. If you read the accounts, right near the end of that awful experience He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Matthew 27:46.
And there was no answer from heaven. For the first time in the history of the universe, the Father turned a deaf ear to the Son’s cry. Then Jesus knew that His Father had rejected Him. Why had He rejected Him? The Scripture says that God is “of purer eyes than to behold evil, and cannot look on wickedness [or iniquity]” Habakkuk 1:13. When Jesus was made sin with our sinfulness, God averted His eyes and stopped His ears to the cry of His Son.
After that, there was only one more cry that came from the lips of Jesus, and then He expired. I believe it is literally correct that He died of a broken heart. What broke His heart was not rejection by His own people, but rejection by His Father.
For every person reading this article who has suffered the agonies of rejection, I want to tell you right now: Jesus experienced the deepest pangs of rejection, even being rejected by His Father, and He bore it for you that you might be saved. If ever there was good news for this generation, that is it.
What is the opposite of rejection? Acceptance. I love the New King James Version of Ephesians 1:6because it says that God has “made us accepted in the Beloved.” Jesus, God’s true and only begotten Son, was rejected that we who were unworthy rebels might have His acceptance with the Father. So the deepest remedy for our problems is to believe that Jesus bore our rejection that we might have His acceptance with the Father.
Sometimes there are problems with earthly parents that can never be resolved. But friends, no matter if nobody wanted you, nobody loved you, your parents were not even married—when you come to God through Jesus Christ, you become a member of the best family in the universe, and God has no second class kids.
God’s family is the best family. There’s no family quite equal to it. Even if your own family did not care for you or your own father rejected you or your mother never had time for you or your husband never showed you love, God still wants you. You are accepted. You are the object of His special care and affection. Everything He does in the universe revolves around you.
When God says that we are accepted, He doesn’t mean we are just tolerated—that we don’t bother, upset, or disturb Him. We never take too much of His time. The only thing that upsets Him is when we stay away too long.
God does not push us off into a corner and say, “Wait, I’m too busy. I don’t have time for you.” Rather, He says, “I’m interested in you. I want you. You’re welcome here. Come in. I’ve been waiting a long time for you.”
It is like the father in the story of the prodigal son. (See Luke 15:11–32.) He was out there looking for the boy to come home. They didn’t have to come and say, “Your son’s come home” because the first one to know it was the father. He knew it before all the rest of the family.
God’s attitude toward us in Christ is like that. We are not rejects. We are not second-class citizens. We are not just servants. When the prodigal came back, he was willing to be a servant. But the father would not hear of it. On the contrary, he said, “Bring out the best robe. Put shoes on his feet, rings on his fingers. Kill the fatted calf! This, my son, was lost and is found, was dead and is alive again.” The whole household was turned upside down to welcome him home.
Likewise, Jesus said, “There is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just people who need no repentance” Luke 15:7. That is how God welcomes us in Christ.
We must understand these two basic facts:
Christ on the cross bore our rejections—all the agony and the heartache.
An exchange has taken place: we are accepted because of His rejection. We are “accepted in the Beloved.”
Sometimes you need not do anything more than lay hold of those two facts to overcome rejection. A few years ago at a conference, I was rushing to my preaching assignment, and I literally bumped into a woman who was going in another direction. She was kind of out of breath and said, “Oh, Brother Prince! I was praying that if God wanted me to meet you, we’d meet.”
“Well,” I said, “we have. What’s the problem? I can give you about two minutes. I’m due to be preaching soon.”
Well, she started to talk, and after about half a minute, I said, “Wait a minute. I know your problem. I don’t need any more facts. Your problem is rejection.” I told her,“ I want you to say these words out loud after me.” So I led her in this statement, which she repeated. I don’t remember the exact words, but this is more or less what I said: “God, I thank You that You are my Father and I am Your child. I am a member of the family of God. Heaven is my home. I belong in the family. I am not rejected. I am accepted. God loves me. He wants me. He cares for me.” I said, “Amen,” and“ Good-bye, I’m going,” and took off.
About a month later, I got a letter from that same person in which she said, “I want to tell you those two minutes you spent with me and those words that I spoke have completely changed my whole life. I’ve been a different person ever since.” Why was she different? Because she realized what it means to be accepted in Christ.
For many people, the simple declaration of their acceptance in Christ resolves the problem. But for others, it takes more than this. So I’m going to tell you in a little more detail the simple steps you have to take if you are troubled with rejection. I believe the Holy Spirit will show you whether or not you are.
1. Forgive those who have rejected you.
This is essential. You say, “Well, my father is dead.” This has been said to me many times, and each time I reply,“ That doesn’t matter, because it’s not for your father’s sake you’re forgiving. It’s for your own sake.”
I know a fine, young Christian man who heard this message. He realized that for years he had carried bitterness, resentment, anger, and rebellion against his father, who was dead. He took his wife on a journey of several hundred miles to the cemetery where his father was buried. Leaving his wife in the car, he went alone to his father’s grave. He knelt there and for the next several hours emptied out all his poisonous attitudes. He did not get up until he knew he had forgiven his father. When he walked out of that cemetery, he was a different person. His wife testifies today that she has a brand-new husband. His father had died, but his own resentment had remained very much alive.
Forgiveness is not for the benefit of the one who is dead or far away; it is your end of the relationship that we are talking about. You have to forgive for your own sake. Let me remind you of something I’ve said many times: Forgiveness is not an emotion; it’s a decision. Don’t say “I can’t.” If the truth be told, it’s “I won’t.” But if you can say, “I won’t,” you can also say, “I will.”
Number one, then, you must forgive every person whom you feel has rejected you.
2. Lay down bitterness, resentment, hatred and rebellion.
These are the four reactions which so frequently accompany deep-seated rejection.
3. Accept the fact that you are accepted in Christ, that God accepts you.
Let me emphasize again that this doesn’t mean He just tolerates you. He loves you. He’s interested in you. He cares for you. I don’t know how many young people I’ve told that to and seen their faces brighten as I did.
4. There is one more thing you have to do, and don’t forget this: you have to accept yourself.
Sometimes this is the hardest part. I tell children of God to never belittle yourself, never criticize yourself, because you are God’s handiwork.
“Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (Romans 9:20)
It is not your business to do this. God knows what He’s doing. Just trust Him. As a Christian, it is not humility when you criticize yourself; it’s rebellion. Never belittle yourself. You are God’s workmanship, His masterpiece, that which He’s devoted the most time and care to of all the things He’s ever created in the universe. You are at the top of the list. If that doesn’t make you feel good, I don’t know what will.
Now that we have looked at the different aspects of rejection, I want to invite you to release yourself from it. Perhaps this is an area of your life that you have never faced before, and now the Holy Spirit has laid bare something that your mind refused to acknowledge. If the Lord has shown you that you need to be freed from rejection, and you would like to take practical action, I urge you to speak the following declaration out loud. And, while you are saying these words, if you start to sob or weep, don’t hold back! You couldn’t buy such an experience for a thousand dollars.
Father, I forgive. I lay down bitterness, resentment, hatred and rebellion. I thank You, God, that I am accepted in Christ. I am a child of God. Heaven is my home. I belong to the best family in the universe. There is royal blood in my veins.
Lord Jesus Christ, I believe You are the Son of God and the only way to God. You died on the cross for my sins, and You rose again from the dead. I repent of all my sins, and I forgive every other person, as I would have God forgive me. All those who have rejected me and hurt me and failed to show me love, God, I forgive them all now.
I trust You for Your forgiveness, and I believe, Lord, that You accept me right now as I am in Christ. I am accepted. I am highly favored. I am the object of Your special care. You really love me. You want me. You are my Father. Lord, I want to thank You.
And I want to tell You one more thing: I accept myself in Christ the way You made me. I am Your workmanship. I thank You for what You have done, and I believe that You have begun a good work and will perform it until the day of Christ the Lord. I release myself now from any dark, evil pressure. I release my spirit to rejoice in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.