[*Note: The following sermon was not recorded due to technical difficulties. But the transcript of the sermon has been included below for reference. Thank you for your understanding.]
Today’s sermon title is Rejection and Acceptance.
Both words are totally opposite to each other.
- You either reject or accept.
Rejection is something you do not want to recognize the value of the person or thing and thus drive away that person or thing from you.
On the other hand, Acceptance is to recognize the value of the person or thing and thus embrace it.
When I look at the world these days, “rejection” will be the word that describes the phenomena of the society.
Whether it is about ethnicity, religion or culture, we tend to reject those who are different from us and put up the walls between them and us.
We all know that US wants to build the wall along the border with Mexico and they want to charge Mexico for that cost.
Israel is still building the walls that go up to 40 feet high to protect their own people but because of the walls, they are forcing the Palestinians to become homeless and to leave their homelands.
UN urged Israel to stop this project because it is against the international law as well as the basic human rights.
But, those who have more want to have more, and those who have power want to keep the status quo.
- While this is going on, they do not care about others who do not have much, whether they are suffering or not.
There is a word, called, Xenophobia.
- Xeno means, foreigners and phobia, fear.
So, Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures.
- This is not a medical condition, but political term.
- This is the attitude from those who are majority and in the centre towards the strangers who might take away the rights and security of the majority.
- Especially towards the refugees with prejudice and distrust.
As we can see from the WORD itself, fear is working in it.
If we find others are different from us, or if we do not know what is going on, we become fearful.
- Because of this, we take defensive attitude and choose rejection which is an easy solution.
It is important to know why we have this particular attitude whether that is negative or positive towards certain groups of people.
- We need to see our true self especially when we become judgemental towards others whom we do not know well or we are different from.
Today’s passage deals with the issue of Rejection as well.
- Let’s take a look at verse 3.
- 3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. (Mark 6:3)
This happened when Jesus went to this synagogue in his hometown.
And we must ask this question.
- “Why was Jesus rejected?”
Even though Jesus was not a refugee but a hometown man, the rejection he received would speak loudly to him.
Why did Jesus get rejected?
When we look at verse 2, the hometown people were astounded after hearing Jesus’ teaching.
- 2On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! (Mark 6:2)
Wisdom in Greek is called, Sophia and power, Dunamis. And dynamite came from this word.
- These two words were used to describe a person with high quality and ability.
But, the hometown people could not give proper respect to Jesus. (slide)
- They are saying, Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. (Mark 6:3)
We can see something from this verse.
The assumption is operating in the minds of the hometown people.
- They thought they knew Jesus very well.
- As if, “Ah Jesus, I knew him from his diapers age”
- Like our Hi-C students.
- I have known some of them from their birth.
- But, do I know them well or what?
But, did the hometown people know who Jesus truly was?
- And treated him properly?
When they mentioned Jesus with the question, “Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” it may refer to a fatherless son.
With this prejudice and judging attitude, they refused to recognize Jesus as he was.
In other words, they could not believe that no greater person should come from such a family.
You see, Familiarity blinded their eyes.
- Knowing too well and figuring out too well works against them.
But, what did Jesus do as he received such rejection from his hometown people?
- Did he pay back what he received from them?
There is a word hearing quite a lot when we watch hockey games, that is Retaliation.
The meaning is an act of revenge.
- Especially, it is like an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth.
- So, if someone slaps you on your right cheek, you give back the same slap to that person.
- It is justifiable to retaliate.
- But, Jesus did not retaliate.
- Let’s pause for a moment and think why Jesus did not retaliate.
Today’s passage has actually two different stories.
- Until now, I did not know the relationship between these two stories and the meaning of it.
Jesus did not retaliate even though he got rejected.
- It is because Jesus did not get discouraged or detained by the rejection.
If we were in his situation, we would have retaliated and got into a fight because our ego was hurt.
- But, Jesus did not go that way.
Rejection is the result of the raw power struggles.
- If we retaliate the rejection, we are still using the raw power or physical power.
- And if that’s the case, there is no solution.
- We will be all destroyed.
- Only through the spiritual encounter, we can solve the issues of rejection.
- That’s when we need faith in a real sense.
Jesus accepted the reality of rejection as it was. And that’s being spiritual.
Jesus embraced the vulnerability caused by the rejection.
He did not intend to build his value by impressing people around him.
- To avoid being rejected, and to become a person to be accepted, he did not use manipulation.
- That’s the sign of the victim of rejection. The sign of weakness.
- Jesus was much much bigger than anyone in the world.
Once a professor at theological school, Drew University, Jung Young Lee wrote a book named, Marginality.
The action Jesus took can be explained through Professor Lee’s theological points.
Jesus did not mind becoming a person in Marginality.
- Actually he chose to become the marginal.
- He did not try to be in Centrality.
- If he did, he would be the victim of the power system.
- But, he knew he could help those who were in the margin, so he embraced the weakness unto himself, and became the margin of marginality.
The fact that Jesus able to accept his vulnerability was the result of his total trust in God.
And this is what the cross is all about and this is what happened to the Cross.
After that, God opened the doors in the situation that was blocked.
When Jesus accepted rejection, the new ministry was dawning for him.
- Jesus was able to send away his twelve disciples to continue what he has been doing.
So, Rejection and Acceptance are not the two different words, but spiritual words must take place together and work together.
Whenever you face rejection in your life, please think about the Cross of Jesus Christ.
When we are not rejecting the cross which is the symbol of rejection, meaning accepting the rejection, we will experience the power of resurrection right there and the new life will be born right there, the place of our own cross.
What Jesus guided his disciples reflected the same message.
- Do not rely on your own power or ability but rely on God only.
- In other words, embrace the vulnerability and move on.
- God will show you the way, and God will provide your need.
We can learn from today’s passage that what happened to Jesus’s disciples as they followed Jesus’ instructions.
- Verses 12 and 13 read,
- 12So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. 13They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them. (Mark 6:12-13)
The same wisdom and the same power were given to them and they were able to heal the sick and cure them just like Jesus.
Now, we understand the relationship between these two stories: The story of Rejection and the story of commissioning the twelve disciples.
We thank God for Jesus who did not treat the rejection lightly.
- But rather embraced and accepted it deeply into his own self and looked for God for a new opening and new life.
- And as a result, God opened the new possibility, new ministry for Jesus.
What Jesus showed in today’s passage should be the guidance for our life.
- We can apply this to every situation in our life.
In life, we may face rejection here and there, small or big, and knowingly or not knowingly.
It is because rejection takes place wherever power is involved.
- Those who are in power will never share their power with others.
- Those who have lot already, will never stop wanting to have more.
- In those power struggles, some will get rejected.
In our life, in our relationships, and in our ministries, rejection takes place every time and every where.
With your spouse, with your siblings, with your friends, and with your parents and children.
Hope we can catch the moment of rejection and take that as on opportunity to experience God’s wisdom and power in our life.
- Hope we have eyes of faith and heart of believer, so that we can embrace our vulnerability truthfully.
When you receive rejection in any forms and in any size, do not retaliate.
- Don’t feel small.
- If you do that, you are still just another wanna be, wanting to move towards the centre from the margin.
Our Lord Jesus did not go that way.
Let us accept rejection and embrace the vulnerability.
- That’s what we are taking up our own cross and follow Jesus is all about.
I hope and pray that the cross becomes your power and your life as you accept rejection and as you embrace your vulnerability.
- God will open the doors for you.
As we go through this spiritual journey, we will become a spiritual person with Sophia and Dumanis.
- The world cannot understand the peace we have.
- The joy we have through the cross.
- And that means, we will be able to do what Jesus asked us to do, that is to empower others and help them.
Let me finish my sermon by reciting some portions from today’s innervoice.
I feel so blessed to have this message that comes to us like morning dew today.
- It echoes the same message.
It is based on 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
The real power is the power even to embrace our own weaknesses. The obsession with power is a sign of one’s weakness. From the obsession, comes pretension and arrogance that makes others feel weak. The strength that comes from God’s grace is the perfect power. Not only it makes us strong but also it empowers others.
May God’s wisdom and power be given to you and me, so that we will continue to be able to empower others and help them. Amen.