Summary: Betrayal and rejection are a part of life but it doesn’t have to be the commanding part of life
No one goes through life without experiencing rejection and/or betrayal. Its part of the result of being sinful humans that we reject others and as a result we end up on the receiving end of that rejection as well. In some ways this fear is the foundation for so many others. We’re afraid of what others will think of us so we don’t live within our means we fall prey to the fear of financial insecurity. If others knew the skeleton’s we’ve buried in the closets of our lives we’d be rejected out of hand. Likewise we fear we’ll fail and be rejected by those who expected us to succeed. You start to get the picture?
One of the greatest fears the American public has is that of public speaking. At the root of that fear is the fear of what others will do with us. Will be rejected and hooted down, made fun of for the vocal blocks and places we stumble over our words etc… I know most of you have heard about my call into the ministry. Even as I walked forward in that meeting I told God. “I don’t know what you can do with me because I can’t speak any foreign language [I was thinking missionary] and I AM NOT going to talk in front of people. So strong was that fear of rejection that four years later as a senior at Cal State University, Hayward, I finally took my “performing arts” requirement Speech 1001.
But that’s not the only rejection I felt. I hated sports in grade school because of the quaint tradition of “picking teams”. I knew that I’d be one of the last three chosen. In about 1961 I was part of a Little League team named the Mets, and we lived up to the name in ’61 too. We sucked! We won one game that year. We were the laughing stock, or believed we were, of the rest of the league. I recall the rejection I felt when a girl friend broke up with me and told me that she still wanted to be friends. It took over a decade but we are friends now.
What’s more is that I’ve had it easy. I know others who have felt rejection like nothing I can imagine. I know people who have been betrayed by those they have trusted their lives and futures too. Many of them have found that the answer to their rejection and betrayal came in relying on the love and acceptance of Christ. In John White’s book Unafraid: walking alone along fearful paths has a telling list of common rejections we may hear [pg 58];
I don’t like you.
You’re not what we’re looking for.
I want her on my team (not you).
What! You didn’t make the team?!
I don’t love you anymore.
I never loved you. I wish you’d never been born.
Go away, you bother me.
I’m sorry, I have other plans.
We wanted a boy.
Let’s just be friends.
Your grades are better but…
Than you for your interest in our position but it’s not a ‘good fit’.
No thanks, I’m not interested.
Man, are you stupid.
Sound familiar? Do you have some “pet” rejections that have held you bound up in fear. Maybe they happened when you were 10 or 11 and now as you look forward to retirement you’re realizing you gotta do something about them. Maybe they happened just last year or last month. Whatever your story and whenever it was take a look at Saul, [I use Paul/Saul interchangeably]
Saul’s story in Acts 9 is full of the fear of rejection and betrayal. Paul, blind, sitting and waiting on God has to wonder what’s going to happen. Ananias, is obvious reluctant at best and outright fearful of going to this one who so easily could betray him and arrest him. After all that’s what Saul did. Later, probably a year or more, Paul is betrayed by those who he loved so much and wanted to see saved. The Jews laid a trap for him and he escapes through a window in the wall of the city. And even once he makes it to Jerusalem the reaction of the disciples themselves is one of fear at whether or not Saul has really changed.
Pastor Craig Burton writes about how people deal with the rejection and betrayal in their lives. “Some try to drown their sorrows in alcohol, drugs, or immoral sex. Others continue to abuse, like they’ve been abused in the past. Others try to prove their sense of self-worth through accomplishments and higher achievements.” Christ does something different with Paul though. He moves Paul to become a beacon of salvation not only to those who rejected him [the Jews] but also to those whom he’d rejected by his upbringing [the Gentiles].