“Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” William Congreve, “The Mourning Bride” 1697
Any serious consideration of love must confront the experience of rejection. Those unprepared for rejection will be surprised by it and unsure of how to get back up and into loving others. Most of us live measured lives dominated by our efforts to avoid being rejected. Rejection comes in small doses and large. Even while Jesus equipped the disciples to pursue His mission with sincere love, he prepared them for rejection.
Really. It really hurts. When you’ve been ignored, passed over, snubbed or outright dissed, the experience creates physical symptoms. In fact, according to Matt Lieberman and Naomi Eisenberger of the University of California, Los Angeles, the same part of the brain “lights up” when we experience emotional pain as when we experience physical pain.
Turn to Jesus when you feel rejected.
Strange thing: when you follow Jesus into His mission of love and Gospel life, rejection lurks. Even though Jesus had instructed the disciples on how to respond to rejection (Luke 9:5) at this stage of His ministry, they quickly forgot it under the initial pain of rejection. “Lord, do you want us to tell fire to come down from heaven and consume them?”
Before we condemn the disciples, do you remember the vengeful desire that rose up in you when you were rejected? When you tried to move toward another person with love and kindness and they rejected you? When you spoke of your life with Jesus and the good news of the Gospel and they rejected you? It hurts. And that hurt is actually compounded by our memories of previous hurt laid upon us in rejection of the past. Fortunately, the disciples’ relationship with Jesus as Lord prevailed. Before striking out, they asked Him.
Not speaking with Jesus about our pain in rejection ushers us into some damaging scenarios: patterns of denial and the inability to connect with others, idolatry and patterns of destructive and selfish management of our pain. The Disciples were right to speak with Jesus first.
Rejection and growth.
“But he turned and rebuked them. And they went on to another village.”
Jesus can refine your character, your love, and your faith when you have been rejected. Jesus rebuked the disciples for their vengefulness (Luke 9:55) Genuine growth as a person of faith on mission with Jesus requires the grace of God. When rejected we realign our heart with Jesus–the one who experienced profound rejection at the cross (Isaiah 53) and then by His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit we continue with Him in His mission (Romans 5:1-5).
If you have experienced persistent and profound rejection from those from whom you had expected great care and love, I pray that you would progressively know that healing work of Jesus Christ in your live. If you have committed yourself to the mission of Jesus I pray that when you are rejected you will look to Jesus for cues on how to respond so that you leave room for the grace of God to work in your life and in the one(s) who rejected you.