“I will make My dwelling among you,
and My soul will not reject you.”
Leviticus 26:11 (NASB)
Series Focus: “Along the Way”
This past weekend took me on a walk down my childhood memory lane to summer church camp! Sunny days of field games, unique crafts, lake swimming, and campfires. Sleeping in the open-air, bunk-bed-filled cabins. The mosquitos and poison ivy. The friendships made. Some of those impactful moments bring a smile to my soul still today.
Anxiety can quickly arise when attending church camp, a retreat weekend, or an event of any size and duration. I remember being afraid to go to church camp. What if no one liked me? What if no one lets me sit at their table? This fear of rejection didn’t just surface as I prepared for church camp, however. It is something I have struggled with my whole life. Am I good enough? Will anyone accept me as I am?
Walking into a crowd of people and facing their opinions and judgment is challenging. Perhaps expectations don’t match, personalities don’t blend, values don’t align, or experiences vary too vastly for any kind of connection. Whatever the reason for the rejection, it can cause confusion, pain, anxiety, fear, and loneliness.
Jesus faced judgment and rejection while He walked on the earth. On one occurrence, He was spending time and eating with tax collectors and sinners. Matthew 9:10-13 (NASB) tells the story:
Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house, behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and began dining with Jesus and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why is your Teacher eating with the tax collectors and sinners?” But when Jesus heard this, He said, “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. Now go and learn what this means: ‘I desire compassion, rather than sacrifice,’ for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
The Pharisees not only rejected Jesus, but also the tax collectors and sinners. Jesus, however, did not reject anyone in this story. He sat down and communed with the “sinners,” and He taught the Pharisees. There’s no condemnation toward anyone from Jesus. In fact, Jesus explained He was sent specifically to the sinners.
That’s great news! That means He came for me, and He came for you! For all of us have sinned. All of us fall short. Yet, Jesus will recline with us at our own table and fellowship with us—right where we are. He will spend time with us, talk with us, and defend His purpose on our behalf.
Ephesians 1:4-6 (NKJV) says:
He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
We can face judgment and rejection from people any day of the week. The anxiety of being dropped off at church camp or walking into a crowd of soul-piercing gazes is a reality we each have experienced. But there is One who wants to sit with you, stay with you, remain in you, and accept you. He has chosen you and saved a place at His table just for you. You are holy and without sin before Him. He loves you with perfect love. You are not rejected, but accepted by Him and in Him.
Holding Fast to Hope,
Scripture References: Leviticus 26:11; Matthew 9:10-13; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 1:4-6; Psalm 23:5