Probably the one time rejection feels good is when playing a game of basketball and you jump high enough to reject the shoot from a player on the opposing team. Other than that, generally our encounters with rejection normally have a negative effect, be it getting rejected by your crush (it has happened many times to me), being rejected by the university you want to attend or the job you want to get. We take these rejections personally; we see them as an attack on us, our character, and take it to heart. Sometimes we fall into this same trap of thinking and feeling when someone rejects the gospel. We see it as a personal rejection. But it’s not! They are not rejecting you; they are rejecting God.
This rejection of God has been happening from the beginning of creation. Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. The Israelites on many occasions (Exodus 32; 1 Samuel 8 to name a few). Even when face to face with Jesus, the word made flesh, people still rejected Him (Luke 4; John 6). And of course, we can’t forget ourselves and our rebellion and rejection of God. Reminding ourselves of this truth and applying it as best as humanly possible is key to helping you take steps in dealing with the situation when someone rejects the gospel. It is not you. It is a rejection of God.
Next, we need to remind ourselves of our role and responsibility within the working of the gospel. When Ezekiel was called to be a watchman for Israel (Ezekiel 3v16-21 and 33), he is given some very clear and direct responsibilities and consequences to not fulfilling his duties. Likewise, we as evangelists have very clear and direct responsibilities and know the consequences of not fulfilling them. However sometimes we fall into the trap of taking on too much/the wrong responsibilities. It is not our role to save. That is God’s. ‘For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.’ (Romans 1v16)
Once we have reminded ourselves these things we place ourselves and minds in a good position to handle it when someone does reject the gospel. I would like to offer four more things we need to do once we have been met with that someone who has rejected the Gospel.
Knowing the consequence both now and for eternity of someone who rejects the gospel should lead us to mourn for them. Now mourning may sound a bit dramatic but it is a highly appropriate reaction and response due to the fact that they are rejecting life and instead choosing death. How and when you mourn (my suggestion is not in front of them) is up to you but we should definitely mourn for that person.
Our mourning should lead us into praying. Pray that the person would have a change of heart and choose to accept the gospel, especially before their last breath on earth is taken. Pray that someone else will come along quickly and water the gospel seed that you have planted. Pray that that seed would take root and even though you didn’t see the fruit straight away, that eventually it will, and you will see them in God’s Kingdom. Pray that something you said would not leave the person’s mind and that would force them to not only think about it but talk to others about it, planting seeds in their hearts also. Whatever you pray, PRAY! Pray for that person believing that your prayer can change the outcome.
Now this may seem a bit contradictory to the first thing I said, but after mourning and praying you should rejoice. Rejoice that the gospel has gone out and that God is now doing His bit. Rejoice that the person actually listed to the gospel. Many times, we don’t get open ears to proclaiming the gospel, so when we do, we should rejoice. Lastly rejoice because you did your bit. You were faithful to doing what God asked you to do and that is something worth rejoicing.
After mourning, praying and rejoicing you then need to go again. Rejection has the ability to put us off doing something, making us fearful of facing that rejection again. But seeing as you know they are not rejecting you; you know your role and responsibility with the work of the gospel; have mourned for the person, prayed for the person, and rejoiced, you can and should go again, looking for the next opportunity to share the gospel and be faithful to what God has asked you to do.
1- How does it make you feel knowing that when people reject the gospel, they are not rejecting you but rejecting God?
2- What can you do to remind yourself of your role and responsibility within the work of the gospel?
3- Which of the four suggested things to do, (mourn, pray, rejoice, go again) do you need to do more of?
Written by Sola Ayodeji. Sola is married to Sophie and lives in Manchester where he heads up the Message Academy gap year course, a year-long programme designed to equip, transform and released young adults between the ages of 18-25 with boldness to share the good news of Jesus in every opportunity.