Rejected on Earth-Accepted in Heaven

Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. Though my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will receive me. [Ps 27:9-10]

Rejection is a part of life. It is not fun nor is it fatal. We all experience it at some level but it does not have to mean the end. Would be crime novelist John Creasey received an unbroken succession of 743 rejection slips. He now has over 60 million books published. At his first audition, Fred Astaire was described as “balding, skinny, can dance a little.” Beethoven’s teacher described his attempts at composing as “hopeless.” Albert Einstein’s parents thought he was sub-normal. Professor Erasmus Wilson of Oxford University declared, “I think I may say without contradiction that when the Paris Exhibition closes, electric light will close with it, and no more will be heard of it.” At a Billy Graham crusade, a missionary’s daughter fought the urge to run out of the meeting because she considered the preaching appalling. Later she would marry the evangelist. The rest is history. 

I have had my moments. In my youth, a couple of young ladies, with poor judgment, spurned my romantic interest, but later after finding my babe, Barbara, I sang with great gusto, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” Pulpit committees have been unimpressed with my qualifications, some of my own sheep voted against me in pastoral elections, some even left the fold because I wasn’t meeting their needs. Articles I have written have been rejected and sermons preached criticized. It is not unique to me. You know what I am talking about. Rejection happens. Rejection hurts.   

There is one thing I know nothing about. I never felt rejected by my parents. Both my father and my mother made me feel loved and even cherished. But, times are changing. Parents are increasingly putting their own interests above the well being of their children. The joy of giving love and providing security to children, at the cost of personal comfort and desires, are disappearing in many families. Children are too often rejected, aborted, deserted, ignored and sometimes even killed, by their own parents! It is shocking to see and impossible to understand, unless you believe in the existence of evil.

The psalmist writes in a culture where parents still put their kids first. Oh, it was still possible that parents would be so selfish that they might possibly reject their own children, but it was rare. That is why he writes, “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” There was a slight possibility, although hard to imagine, that the closest and most important people in a person’s life, might, in an unbelievable rejection of natural love for one’s offspring, forsake them, but his Lord would not. The dearest and most precious human relationship might fail, but the Lord’s steadfast commitment to his children would never fail. That was the faith and hope that carried him in the darkest times of his life.

When you are in God’s family, you are in! The theological basis for such an awesome claim can be seen in the words and works of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught that we did not choose to be a member of God’s family. We did not birth ourselves into the family of God. The Father chose us. He brings us in. He adopts us. And, once in, we are fully accepted. Jesus said,   “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” [John 6:37-38]

The Lord clearly wants us to know how secure we are in his family. Using the imagery of sheep rather than children, Jesus says, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”  [John 10:26-30] The whole point of Romans 8:28-39, is to convince us that nothing, absolutely nothing, can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.

There will be times that we feel deserted by God. That is the struggle that is going on in the heart of the psalmist. Perhaps it is sin that causes us to feel a distance from the sweet communion we once enjoyed. Perhaps we hear voices which remind us of our failures that would certainly give God reason to desert us. Maybe we are experiencing the terrible pressure of being surrounded by enemies and the appearance that God is preoccupied with other things more important than us. We wonder if God has rejected us.

That is the one thing we must reject. God has made us his own. His name is upon us. His glory is attached to our welfare. I was reading this morning of a time when the people of Israel were afraid that God had deserted them because of their sins. The prophet Samuel gave them this assurance: “For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own.” [1 Sam 12:22-23]. God has chosen to glorify himself by adopting us, sinners and rebels, into his holy family. He has chosen us, justified us and will glorify us. [Romans 8:30] He has declared, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” [Heb 13:5] Our welfare and our holiness and our security are as safe as God’s commitment to glorify Himself in this world.

Life and people will give us many reasons to question that truth. G. Campbell Morgan, a great preacher of the 19th and 20th century, had one of those moments. He sought entrance into the Wesleyan ministry in 1888. He had taken a written exam and then preached a sermon before the entrance board. He was competing with 150 other candidates. When the list of approved candidates was posted, his name was not on the list. He wrote in his diary that day, “Very dark. Everything seems still. He knoweth best.” In great disappointment and fighting discouragement, he wrote one word to his godly, pastor-father: “Rejected!” His very wise father knew the ways of God and wrote back to his son. “Rejected on earth. Accepted in heaven. Dad.”

 We must fight for this truth. In this life we will face rejection. Our highest hopes and dearest dreams will be stomped on by men. But, our hope and our acceptance are secure in Jesus. Peter gives us this powerful reminder: “As you come to him, the living Stone — rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” [1 Peter 2:4-5]

We may be rejected by men, even by our parents, but we are chosen in Christ. We are precious in him. God is building us into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. Those sacrifices take the form of our trusting God when our dearest family members betray and reject us. They rise when we refuse to get caught up in self-pity and cynicism. They shine forth when like the psalmist we say, “In return for my love they accuse me; but I will give myself to prayer.” [Psalm 109:4] We may be rejected on earth. But, praise God, we are accepted in heaven! Never forget that!