There can be a hundred reasons for rejection. As an author, I’ve dealt with rejection for years—and still do. But rejection isn’t reserved for authors. Perhaps a friend of yours has been too busy to have coffee…the last four times you’ve asked. Maybe your husband isn’t home for supper…again. Or we could talk about every parent’s rejection nightmare—teenagers. Oy-vay! Now, if you have self-confidence as solid as Gibraltar, rejection is no big deal. But for the rest of us, we wonder things like: Why don’t they like me? What did I do wrong? Then we do a little soul-searching and decide to find our self-worth in Christ alone. We get spiritually healthy, read about the Apostle Paul being this fabulous evangelist and think, I should try the evangelism thing! So we step out and offer Jesus Christ to a lost soul. What happens? Rejection! But remember where we started this conversation? There can be a hundred reasons for rejection. When Dr. Luke wrote Acts, he gave us some insight as to why the Ephesians rejected the Gospel. As I was reading this passage, it dawned on me…here are a few of those hundred reasons for rejection:
Acts 19:23 – “About that time there arose a great disturbance about the Way.” (emphasis added)
Sometimes rejection is just a timing thing. The Ephesian merchants were panicked because they’d just watched 50,000 drachmas-worth of scrolls (that’s the equivalent of $5,698,630 USD) incinerated by this nutso new religion (Acts 19:19). Some folks were moved to believe by that radical act of devotion. Others were disturbed and chose to reject Christianity. Nothing Paul or any follower of Christ could say would change their decision.
Acts 19:24-25 – “A silversmith named Demetrius, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought in no little business for the craftsmen. He called them together, along with the workmen in related trades, and said: ‘Men, you know we receive a good income from this business.’” (emphasis added)
Sometimes rejection is solely based on economics. Each time I pass a bar and see a beer truck sitting outside, I pray for the guy delivering the kegs and for the bar owners. Why? Because for them to accept Jesus as their Savior might mean some hard decisions about their livelihood. Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying it’s impossible for a beer-truck driver or a bar owner to continue their work and still be a Christian. I AM saying it would take a special kind of missionary’s heart to make it work. For many faced with such an economic choice, earthly cost outweighs eternal blessing when they can see only what this world offers. Who in your life might be rejecting God because of financial ramifications?
Acts 19:26 – “And you see and hear how this fellow Paul has convinced and led astray large numbers of people here in Ephesus and in practically the whole province of Asia. He says that man-made gods are no gods at all.” (emphasis added)
I suppose this is more of a tactic than a reason for rejection. When folks seek to condone their decision, they often make it a personal issue rather than admitting petty frustrations. To attach a face to an issue fuels hate and gives life to an otherwise wishy-washy rejection. People burning scrolls was bad, but focusing all that anger on a person makes a better target for attack. Rejection now has a bulls-eye.
Acts 19:27 – “There is danger not only that our trade will lose its good name, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be discredited, and the goddess herself, who is worshiped throughout the province of Asia and the world, will be robbed of her divine majesty.” (emphasis added)
So this is another tactic of rejection. Good ol’ Demetrius would much rather sound noble than greedy. He asserts that by protecting the “great goddess,” they won’t simply be saving their businesses, they’ll be rescuing all of Asia and even the whole world! (Oh brother. Is he running for election?) Rather than ‘fessing up to the REAL motive, he saves face with a noble-sounding half-truth.
Acts 19:28-34 – “When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul’s traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’” (emphasis added)
Yet another reason for rejection—the mob mentality. When people start nodding in a certain direction, it’s tough to get them to stop nodding—even when they don’t know why they’re nodding. Many people believe there’s no God because that’s all they’ve ever heard. And vice versa. Many Christians believe Jesus died for their sins because they’ve grown up in the Church. It’s important to know WHAT we believe and WHY we believe it. The Truth is our protection from becoming the mob—God is our Protector from the mob’s attacks.
Acts 29:35-41 – “The city clerk quieted the crowd and said: ‘Men of Ephesus, doesn’t all the world know that the city of Ephesus is the guardian of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image, which fell from heaven? Therefore, since these facts are undeniable, you ought to be quiet and not do anything rash. You have brought these men here, though they have neither robbed temples nor blasphemed our goddess. If, then, Demetrius and his fellow craftsmen have a grievance against anybody, the courts are open and there are proconsuls. They can press charges. If there is anything further you want to bring up, it must be settled in a legal assembly. As it is, we are in danger of being charged with rioting because of today’s events. In that case we would not be able to account for this commotion, since there is no reason for it.’ After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.” (emphasis added)
The last reason for rejection is no reason at all. People simply decide not to decide. We walk away from a decision because it makes us uncomfortable, or it’s not being handled properly; and the decision—left unmade—is actually made by inactivity or the passing of time. Especially a decision concerning one’s eternity. Granted, there are times when we need to walk away from an unhealthy discussion, but leaving important decisions undecided is unwise. Don’t let indecision become rejection—that steals eternity.
- Lord, rejection stems from many motives and sometimes becomes an acceptable mask to a frenzied mob. But whether I’m the one rejecting, or I’ve felt the sting of rejection, You see the condition of every heart involved in the process. Give me wisdom in the uncomfortable decisions, comfort when I have no control, and wisdom to know the difference.