When I was younger, I clearly remember being curious about where I came from and what was the point of life. I remember visiting a church where I could maybe get some answers. After attending a few times, I was given a Bible and told to read the Book of Acts, which I did. As I was reading through, for some reason, I saw a pattern of people being baptized in order to become a Christian.

A few weeks later I approached the minister of the church and said, ‘I don’t understand what this baptism thing is all about, but I do know I need to be baptized.’ The minister’s reply has stuck with me to this very day, he said, ‘You can’t be baptized until you prove yourself first.’

To this day, I’m not quite sure what he meant by that statement, but I took it as a personal rejection from God Himself. I left feeling I wasn’t good enough for God and very quickly turned to alcohol and drugs and all kinds of ungodly things.

Have you ever experienced rejection? We experience rejection in different ways, but it always hurts.

It’s the husband who says to his wife, ‘You’re not good enough for me, I don’t need you anymore, I reject you.’ The stigma attached results in rejection by others for the fact they are divorced. One rejection by your husband leads to rejection from others.

It’s the woman who has worked hard for her employer for years but now she’s a little older, her boss tells her, ‘We need to let you go, you are not important enough anymore to keep you employed here.’

It’s the child who gets bullied at school with all kinds of insults which basically say, ‘We don’t think very highly of you that’s why we treat you the way we do.’

It’s the child who was born with a physical or mental issue and who is treated differently by other children or society.

It’s the old person who lives in a care home and her family and friends never come and visit them.

It’s the Christian who sins but despite repenting, they are still treated like an outcast. Other Christians look differently upon them and treat them differently because they had sinned.

The list can go on and on, but the point is rejection affects all kinds of people and it can come at us in all kinds of ways and anyone who has ever felt rejected knows how much this really hurts. The good news is that anyone who has experienced rejection is not alone.

For years the Jews had looked forward to a Messiah which the prophets had foretold. The sad thing is that they did not recognize him when He did come. From the beginning of His ministry, they rejected Him, criticized Him, resented Him, hated Him, despised Him, and tried to kill Him, John 1:11 / Isaiah 53:3.

The church is a place for the rejected, it’s a spiritual family where the family members go out of their way to ensure that no one feels rejected.

However, there may be times as a church, we may become blind to what’s happening around us because we’re so focused on our own friend groups within the church.

I know of a new Christian who visited many congregations for their fellowship days, they felt isolated and very apprehensive because everyone seemed to be chatting in their groups. Only a handful of people said hello or smiled and proceeded to walk away to chat with someone else they already knew. It always seemed like a scary uncomfortable place to be.

Is it possible that we don’t notice certain people within our spiritual family who have come from a world of rejection and now after becoming a part of God’s family, they are still feeling rejected? How can we tell?

Someone once said if you take a moment to look around, you can detect whether someone is being accepted or rejected within two minutes of them being there.

The next time you’re gathered together with the Lord’s people, take a moment to look around and ask yourself the following questions:

How does your church family treat one another? Do you see people totally ignoring someone who is different?

Are people acting as though certain people do not exist? Does anyone take the time to make eye contact with them, does anyone even smile when they see them?

If someone is on their own, do you notice people just staring at them because they are different?

When strangers or visitors come into the assembly, how are they treated, does anyone go to speak to them and welcome them or are they simply ignored?

Part of the problem, when we see someone different or strange, is that we get involved in the old judging game. This was the issue that Simon and the Pharisees had when a woman who lived a sinful life walked into Simon’s house, Luke 7:36-50.

Jesus reached out to people who were different and who were strange, and Jesus had a right to judge outward appearance, yet He said, “You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one.” John 8:15.

When people come into our assemblies, we don’t know their history, we don’t know what they’ve faced in their lives, and we don’t know what hurt and pain they’ve been carrying for many years.

Some have probably experienced rejection most of their lives and they don’t need more rejection because of the way they look or because they speak or act differently from others.

What they need is acceptance, they need to be loved and feel loved; they need to feel comforted, and they need people to be patient with them, Romans 12:10 / 1 Thessalonians 5:14.

It is interesting to consider whom Jesus chose to be His apostles. James and John, the ‘sons of thunder,’ Mark 3:17, Simon a Zealot, Luke 6:15, Peter a denier, Matthew 26:69-75, Matthew a tax collector, Matthew 9:9, Thomas a doubter, John 20:25, Judas a betrayer, John 13:21.

They all ran when Jesus was arrested because of fear and left Him to face His enemies alone, Mark 14:50. They were self-centered, Luke 9:46, and at times slow to hear and understand, Luke 18:34. At times they were thick, dull, stupid, and blind.

However, in spite of their weaknesses, Jesus accepted them. He graciously encouraged them, lovingly corrected them, patiently instructed them, and lovingly forgave them.

Look who was drawn to Him. It was not the religious establishment, they were self-righteous and in no need of changing their lives, Mark 2:17.

It was the publicans, sinners, harlots, the downtrodden, the weak, the poor and outcasts. He reaches out to all, even though no one is fit to be in God’s kingdom, Romans 3:10 / Romans 3:23.

Those who have been rejected may never have experienced real love in their lives, but with God, they can, Ephesians 3:18.

Those who have been rejected may never have experienced real security in their lives, but with God, they can, Hebrews 13:5-6.

Those who have been rejected may never have experienced real self-esteem in their lives, but with God, they can, 2 Peter 1:4.

We are all different, every one of us has our own personality. Even those who look different or speak or act differently from what the world calls ‘normal’ have their own personality. Today Jesus reaches out to all regardless of our background, and physical or mental issues.

I mentioned earlier how I felt when I thought God was personally rejecting me. The good news is years later when my life was at an all-time low and I had no reason to live on, I met another minister from a different church.

We started studying together and the subject of baptism came up again, as you can imagine, I was nervous, I was scared of being rejected again.

I asked him if I have to prove myself first and his reply has also stayed with me to this very day. He said, ‘I can baptize you right now if you want because God will accept you the way you are.’ This was the first time I came face to face with grace, with God’s unconditional love.

He doesn’t reject anyone, 2 Peter 3:9, instead, He lovingly invites all of us, even those who have rejected time and time again to come to Him.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30