Fitting In, Conforming and Rejection (Psalm 27:10)
It is only human to want to fit in with your peers. At work, in your neighborhood, at school, and wherever else people gather in groups there is peer pressure to fit in by conforming to the norms of the group. This can be a problem for Christians because group norms often conflict with God’s Word. What’s a Christian to do in this kind of situation? On one hand, going along with the group might require you to compromise your Christian beliefs. On the other hand, refusing to go along with the group can lead to rejection, and nobody likes to be rejected.
To be rejected is to be spurned, dismissed, turned down, left out, rebuffed, or marginalized. Rejection hurts. It can lead to loneliness, self-doubt, and, over time, even depression. This can be bad news for Christians because in a fallen world those who conform to Scriptural teaching are going to be rejected from time to time. As a Christian, there are going to be times when you won’t fit in. Worse yet, the more closely you adhere to your Christian beliefs, the more often you will be rejected by the world. This is no small issue because rejection conveys the message you don’t matter.
When rejection makes you feel as if you don’t matter, think of what is written in Psalm 27:10: “For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in.” The message in this verse is powerful. Even if your own father and mother reject you—the worst form of worldly rejection there is—Christ will still accept you. This is an important verse for Christians who find themselves unable to fit in with their peers. We all seek approval from external sources. This being the case, it is better to seek it from Christ than from our peers. Peer approval is always conditional and often fleeting, but God’s approval, acceptance, and love are unconditional and eternal.
As Christians, we all suffer rejection from time to time. When you are rejected by the world, find reassurance in 1 Peter 2:4: “…a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.” Occasionally we are the “living stone” that is rejected by the world, but that matters little when we are accepted by God and are “chosen and precious” to Him. When you are precious to God, human rejection is like lint on your sleeve; you can simply brush it off without a thought.
Let’s return to Psalm 27:10 because it deals with being rejected by those closest to us: our parents. This verse from Psalm 27 makes clear that our own parents might reject us. It happens. Sometimes their rejection is unintended and happens as a result of an off-hand comment. But at other times the rejection can be intentional. Parents who set unrealistic expectations for their children and then condemn them for failing to measure up to those expectations poison their souls with rejection.
When you are intentionally rejected by people you love or who are important to you for other reasons, the pain can be overwhelming. But even in these unfortunate instances, you still have the acceptance and love of someone more important to you than your parents, spouse, siblings, friends, coworkers, fellow students, or peers. You have God and, as Psalm 27:10 makes clear, “…the Lord will take you in.” When others reject you, don’t despair. Instead, go to the Lord in prayer and ask Him to take you in. He will do it, and His acceptance will help you overcome even the worst form of worldly rejection.
Ironically, the world’s rejection puts you in good company, the company of Jesus Christ. This is the message in Isaiah 53:3. In this verse, we learn that Christ was not just rejected by the world, He was despised. If the world rejected Christ, consider it a badge of honor when it rejects you; especially if the rejection comes as the result of your faith. If Christ had to endure the rejection of the world, you and I can too. This challenge is made easier by the knowledge that the same Christ who was rejected and despised is the one who will take us in with loving acceptance when we are rejected. Having been rejected Himself, Christ knows exactly how you feel.
A final but important lesson about dealing with rejection comes from Psalm 139:13-14. These verses assure us we were made by God and, as a result, are wonderfully made. This means it doesn’t matter how the world may view you, how you dress, what you look like, your athletic ability, popularity among your peers, or any other worldly criteria. In the eyes of God, you are wonderfully made. The petty rejections of the world are mere gnats to be swatted away when you have the love, caring, and acceptance of Jesus Christ. Remember this the next time you are rejected by the world.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com