The Sting of Rejection
John15:18,19 If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you… You are not of the world… therefore the world hates you.
Honestly, I would rather write of my drug addiction. My drug use is nearly three years past and is easier to talk about than the defects I struggle with today. It feels weak to admit that I derive meaning and affirmation from the beliefs of others. The fact that I allow the opinions of those around me to alter my behavior irritates and shames me.
Make no mistake. Affirmation from others is a drug that feeds our pleasure center. Like a drug, we alter our behavior to seek after it and a little leads us to want more. Despite engaging in destructive behavior to get it, we still seek after it. When we do not get it, we suffer withdrawal. Affirmation is a drug to which many of us are addicted.
This addiction takes different forms for different people. Some of us need everyone to like us so we become people-pleasers, not being motivated by right or wrong but by that which will make us likable. Some of us want everyone to agree with us, so we become argumentative, trying to convince the world that we alone hold the truth. Others require a smile or attention from the opposite sex to feel good about ourselves, so we become slaves to appearance. Still others just need the world to acknowledge our import. Addicted to respect, we feel angry and slighted when the world does not recognize our greatness.
Jesus, in today’s passage, insists that as Christians, the world will never completely agree with or like us. In fact, the world may very well come to hate us as it hated Christ. He did not seem much affected by this rejection. He did grieve over those who followed themselves to destruction (Matthew 23:37), but He did not chase after those who rejected him. He loved people, told them the truth and then allowed them to follow or not. He did not seek pleasure or affirmation from the world. He simply accepted the fact that the world was going to, at times, hate him.
Where then, did Jesus derive his meaning and purpose? He was sustained by doing the will of his father (John 4:34). His mission was to obey God whether or not anyone ever followed or affirmed him. He found his joy in God, not in the world.
The gospel, frankly, is offensive. You are a mess and you need God. Those who do not see their defect and destruction will vehemently object to the idea that they are wrong. They will not see their illness and thus, will not see their need for a physician. Jesus did not spend much time trying to convince the blind they were blind, He just healed those who wanted it.
I would do well to learn from Christ. It is not in the affirmation of those around me that I find my meaning. It may be painful to abandon my affirmation addiction, but I must learn to find my meaning from following God, not the world.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.