“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5)
Rejection means failure. If a student gets rejection letters from every university he applies to, he will feel like a miserable failure. If the voters reject the ideas of the candidate running for office, he will lose the election. If a Coke machine rejects your bill, you fail to get your drink. If a young man’s marriage proposal is rejected, he certainly won’t feel like a success. We fear rejection because it almost always means failure.
Sometimes Christians get to thinking in these terms about discipleship. We think that if our efforts at sharing the gospel with someone are rejected, then we have utterly failed and have accomplished nothing. We think that if the culture makes fun of us, rejects us, or mistreats us for our faith, then we must be doing faith wrong. We equate numerical growth in the attendance log and the bank balance with success—and falling numbers with failure. The apostles fell into this mindset too—when Jesus foretold his rejection and crucifixion, they were scandalized (see Mark 8:31-32). Why? Because they thought rejected Messiahs were failed Messiahs!
Yet Peter shows disciples that rejection does not mean failure. Take Jesus, “a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious.” Jesus has a litany of rejections in his credits. His hometown brethren in Nazareth tried to throw him off a cliff (Lk 4:29). Isaiah foretold that Jesus would be, “despised and rejected by men” (Isa 53:3). His rejection culminated in his torture and public execution on a cross. Yet, “the stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (1 Pet 2:8). Did Jesus’ rejection mean that he failed as a Messiah? Far from it! While men rejected Jesus, God used that rejection to advance his plan and glorify his name.
Jesus promised similar rejection for his followers: “A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20). But just as surely as God used a reject like Jesus as the chosen and precious cornerstone in his house, he will also use rejects like us. If we are following our Master, then Peter promises that we are a part of an incredible house God is building. We can be mocked, marginalized, and rejected by the world, and at the same time be loved by and precious to God. Rejection doesn’t mean failure!