1. Fear of rejection by others is a big deal.
a. I remember going to my first dance – in the 8th grade at Indian Creek Junior High. I liked a girl and she kind of liked me. She talked me into meeting her at the dance, and I kind of agreed before I realized: I had no clue how to dance.
i. The awesome thing to do was to admit it, get out there and have some fun learning how, but I was not awesome. I was scared of looking stupid.
ii. I went to the dance, but spent the whole night dodging my date so I didn’t have to dance. It was a brilliant plan, because I didn’t dance one dance that night.
iii. Not a brilliant plan in that poor girl felt utterly rejected and pretty much never spoke to me again.
b. Experiencing abandonment may be the #1 imperfect thing to experience in life.
i. Psychologists sometimes talk about a baby’s first major trauma. They see a loving parent’s face in front of them, and then it goes away, replaced by feeling utterly alone in the world for the first time.
ii. Other rejections follow – maybe
in the playground, classroom, home, workplace, even church.
iii. It’s a pretty universal experience – if you haven’t had it happen to you, you probably caused it to happen to someone else.
2. I’ve met some people who feel like they’ve been abandoned by God, or rejected because they must have done something wrong. That feeling usually comes from a complicated and emotional place there are no neatly packaged answers for.
a. But what is clear is that we abandon and reject God pretty regularly.
b. Read Nehemiah 9:17
i. That’s just one among hundreds of scriptures testifying our abandonment of God.
c. All four Gospels tell the story of what the head disciple, Peter, did to Jesus.
i. Read John 18:15-18, 25-27
ii. The Greek word translated ‘deny’ is pretty strong, meaning to repudiate or disown.
3. You may not acknowledge the existence of God, so this really isn’t an issue. But if you do, and also believe that God wants to have some relationship with you… how have you done with that?
a. Does God get your full attention and devotion, or has your focus and faithfulness waivered.
b. You’ve felt pretty rotten when you’ve been rejected by someone you really wanted relationship with.
i. Now imagine how God must feel, all the time.
4. So how does God respond? In kind?
a. In John 21: 15-17 Jesus countered Peter’s triple-rejection with thrice-repeated question “do you love me?” and triple-re-commissioning as a disciple
i. The first half of Neh 9:17 is followed by the second half.
1. Read Neh 9:17b
ii. The Apostle Paul says we could be completely surrounded by rejection and abandonment but God will never forsake us.
1. Read 2 Cor 4:8-10
b. God actually uses abandonment and rejection to bring about salvation and redemption.
i. The utter forsakenness of Jesus on the cross became the means by which God extends forgiveness, grace and reconnection of relationship with God which is secure forever.
ii. Jesus’ experienced God’s rejection for us so we would never experience it ourselves.
5. Throughout the ages there has been something called ‘Sanctuary.’
a. A temple, a church, a public building, even a
whole city designated by society as a place you could go if you had been rejected, ostracized or even pursued with intent to harm.
i. It was a safe place where you were guaranteed protection.
ii. It was a place where you could wait for things to calm down or justice to be done
iii. When you could eventually leave, you could make a new home and be someone who guaranteed the safety for the next person seeking sanctuary.
b. Life is imperfect. Failure, rejection, and sin lurk behind every corner and around every bend in the road.
i. But God is your refuge. He is your sanctuary.
ii. The cross turns abandonment into close fellowship with God where there is grace and safety.
iii. And every time you reject God, he offers sanctuary again. And again.
6. If you haven’t sought God’s sanctuary before, I encourage you to receive it now and make it your new home.
a. If you have received God’s sanctuary, be God’s sanctuary for others abandoned by this imperfect world.
b. If you are a part of this church, let this place and this people be a sanctuary for our community.
7. The imperfect will be covered with God’s perfection.