Summary: This is a sermon on Identity from the perspective of "The Exchanged Life" which seeks to facilitate one accepting their identity in Christ.
I recently read a book about rejection and its effects entitled, "The Ins and Out of Rejection" by Charles R. Solomon. Did you notice the plural tense of "Ins" and the singular tense of the word "Out"? The point is, there are many ins into rejection, but only one "out." The only way out of rejection is the cross of Christ. To die to our Self, to deny yourself, take up the cross, and follow Jesus - we must live life from the cross. But so often we want to try and get around the cross or de-emphasize the effect that our ongoing relationship to the cross of Christ is to have on our lives.
The truth is, the cross has never been a place where many people gather for fellowship, nor will it ever be. Those who embrace the cross and it’s teachings don’t think of themselves as having “arrived,” except at the bottom. The cross in the life of the believer involves brokenness and suffering, just as it did for Jesus.
Now, the essence of our identity as believers is found in the cross of Christ. The way from rejection to acceptance is by way of the cross. In fact, there is no such thing as an “end run” around the cross. None of us is greater than our Master, and we must all go the way of the cross if we’re to have victory in our Christian experience. Until we understand this, we will continue to resist the message that life must come out of death and victory comes out of defeat.
The experience of the cross is an on going process. We are all in the process of becoming in experience who we already are in Christ by position. And our identity comes out of Christ, through the cross and it’s there that we find our acceptance as Paul says in v.6, the last phrase “through which he hath made us accepted in the Beloved.”(KJV) Through the cross of Christ and the grace of God, He has made us accepted in Jesus Christ. But before we come to acceptance, lets look at:
I. Rejection and Its Effects
There’s one thing for certain, we all experience rejection to one extent or another and for one reason or another. For some rejection has been more open, obvious, aware what we call overt. Some actually heard their parents say that the children were not wanted or not loved. Then there’s a more subtle rejection that takes place where a parent or person doesn’t intend the rejection, we call this covert rejection.
By way of definition, rejection means “the absence of meaningful love.” Now, being rejected doesn’t mean there’s no love involved, but that for one reason or another, it’s not fulfilling or edifying love. It’s not meaningful, it’s not meeting the needs of the individual. When we’re not loved the way we need to be, we will feel a sense of rejection. Of course, God has created us with the God-given need to be loved and accepted and He’s the only One who can meet that need completely and meaningfully. So, we all do experience rejection to one extent or another. The result of rejection then us usually the impaired ability to give and receive love. So we pass on the rejection cycle to others for we are all impaired. We all live a self-centered life and that’s the root of the problem of which rejection is a symptom.
People feel rejection for many reasons such as overprotection, performance-based acceptance, the premature death of a parent, an extended hospital stay in infancy and even the realization that you were the opposite sex from what your parents wanted. Sometimes rejection is subtle, unintentional, unrecognized, unavoidable or even all of the above. I could go into all of these, but as an example I’ll deal with the overprotected child and how rejection stems from parents behavior in spoiling their child.
The overprotected child is not allowed to make decisions appropriate to his own age, so he doesn’t develop confidence in himself or in his decision-making ability. The parents are telling him by default that he’s not capable of making decisions. Deeming him-self inferior, he develops an inferiority complex. The parents love him so much that they do everything for him except allow him to become a person! Obviously this is unintentional and neither the parents nor the child realize what is happening.
The point is, we all experience rejection. And a rejected person will reject not only himself, but also others. The reason being, a person who has experienced the absence of meaningful love, can’t give and receive love meaningfully. The answer to rejection then is acceptance.
II. Acceptance Comes through Identity
Human acceptance will not heal the damaged emotions after rejection has done it’s dirty work. Of course, it does help and often it may be the only help available. However, the experience of being accepted in Jesus Christ is the only true curative for the effects of rejection in our lives.