That’s why our souls are plastered in scar tissue. Every earthly rejection reminds us that something deep within us is messed up in a way we cannot fix. And we have the sinking sense that it can never be fully fixed in this lifetime. The truth is, it can’t. We will always wince at the thought of rejection as long as we breathe air on this pale blue dot.
Since our forefathers rebelled against God in Eden we are all born into rejection. We are rejected because of Adam and Eve’s disobedience. And we are willing participants in this human rebellion. We take after our parents, don’t we?
The beauty of the gospel is that in Christ we can know forgiveness here and now. We can be reunited with God in this life. But the spiritual pain, the perceived pain, the psychological pain, the physiological pain, of rejection is not entirely undone in this life. It’s like our shadow. It will follow us everywhere we go. Even on our best day, it’s there lingering behind us, reminding us that we don’t fully know what it means to be unconditionally accepted.
If we are to survive on this cursed planet we will have to learn to live with the blaring background noise of rejection. That’s why for Christians, we must constantly counter this ambient message with the gospel. We are accepted. We were rejected. But in Christ we are rejected no more. We can grow in our understanding, our appropriation, of this new reality. But we cannot completely rest in this place of perfect love until we have new hearts beating in new bodies in the new creation.
In this life, the scars on our hearts are reminders that we have been hurt, that we have been rejected. But they are also signs that we have been, and are being, healed.
Still, every form of human rejection seems to threaten to rip off the scabs. Our progress into our new position can be slow and painful. The words and actions of others, or inactions, the passive and active attitudes, can be like salt rubbed, smeared, ground, into our pain.
But followers of Jesus are reminded that it is by his pain, his stripes, his wounds, his rejection, that we are brought back into the only relationship that can fill the emptiness in our hearts.
We knew the greatest rejection of all history. But we are the ones who have experienced the greatest reunion, the greatest acceptance, the greatest love, that the universe has ever seen. Even angels long to look into the beauty and power and majesty of our redemption (I Peter 1:12).
Christian, remind yourself of this when rejection whispers your name. There’s another who knows your name. It’s carved into the palm of his hand (Isaiah 49:16). And one day he will call you by name. He will call you home. You will leave rejection behind like a bad cold, like a dirty garment. You will know it no more. You will only know love and acceptance. You will again walk in the garden with your Creator. Eden will be restored.
I talk a lot about this theme of what it looks like to take the effects of the curse of sin seriously in my new book that comes out next month, Life in the Wild: Fighting for Faith in a Fallen World.