John 1:10-11 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.
Everyone has a deep and abiding need to be accepted, to belong, but we have that need fulfilled to widely varying degrees. Everyone feels like an outsider sometimes, and some feel like an outsider most of the time. That last situation can be dangerous, because it is part of the makeup of a sociopath. The key word here is “feel,” because the objective facts have relatively little to do with how we react. That’s what makes it so tricky. Obsessing on whether or not we are accepted demonstrates our fundamental self-centeredness. The obvious solution for any Christian is to look at Jesus. We recognize that He took our sins on Himself on the cross, but often we fail to realize that He also took our rejection on Himself throughout His whole life. As John points out here, He had more reason to be accepted and welcomed than anyone else ever has or could have, but He was still rejected by the majority of those around Him. Even His own family thought He was weird! In one sense His isolation was by His choice, but in another sense it wasn’t His choice at all. He chose to be born on earth as a human baby, knowing that He would be accepted by a small minority of those He encountered, but that wasn’t what He would have preferred. His natural choice would have been for everyone who saw Him to recognize who He was and give Him the love and obedience He was due as the Son of God. His 12 disciples came closest to that, but even there, Judas betrayed Him for money and even Peter said he didn’t know Him. There is no level of rejection we could experience that Jesus hasn’t topped it, just as this passage says. Accordingly, just as we accept that He died for our sins, we need to believe that He endured rejection for our acceptance, and rejoice in Him regardless of people’s reactions toward us.
I am something of a case study in this issue. Growing up as a Caucasian in Japan, rejection was built into the situation. Going to school as a Missionary Kid on a US Air Force base, there was a very real level of separation there. Being a geek certainly didn’t improve the situation! Then, going to the US, my life experiences to that point were so different from my peers that I had great difficulty fitting in. However, along the way I have been incredibly blessed, receiving a wife at a young age and having an enduring marriage, making friends of various sorts all along the way. Living in Japan as I do, I still feel very much “other” more than I would like, even though this is very much my home. More than others, perhaps, I need to remember what Jesus chose to endure for me, not taking rejection personally but rejoicing that I am a child of God, as it says in the very next verse. It is nice when I am accepted by the people around me, but it is far more important that I am accepted by my God, through faith in Jesus Christ my Lord.
Father, I didn’t expect this particular lesson at this point. Thank You for knowing what I need, and when. Thank You for all that You are doing in and through this conference, in and through me and everyone else here. As we go home today may we not forget what You have said to us in this time, but rather live it out in bold obedience, indeed seeking first Your kingdom and Your righteousness, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!