And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen….
— 1 Corinthians 1:28
Have you ever felt unwanted, abandoned, or rejected? If your answer is yes, I relate to your feelings entirely. There was a time in my life when I felt very inferior to everyone else, even though I had no reason to feel this way.
Because I was sick for a prolonged period of time when I was in junior high school, I missed a great deal of school. I especially felt the pain of this loss when it came to the subject of mathematics. As a result, I missed all the essential elements of mathematics that my fellow students were learning. When I finally returned to school, I was far behind everyone else.
As I started my first algebra class in junior high school, my teacher ridiculed me for not understanding the basic elements of mathematics that everyone else in class seemed to understand. I tried to explain my situation, but she responded by calling me “Stupid.” In fact, every day when she called the roll, instead of calling my name, she’d say, “Stupid Renner,” and I’d always answer, “Here, Ma’am.”
My teacher’s words negatively affected my self-image when I was a young junior high student. Other students laughed at me and thought it was funny to call me “Stupid.” Outside of class, they started to call me by the same name until, finally, the word “stupid” became my nickname that many of the kids used that school year when they spoke to me. Everywhere I turned at school, people yelled out, “Stupid…hey, Stupid!” I allowed this petty name-calling to create feelings of inferiority in my life that affected me for several years.
Everyone remembers feeling unwanted and rejected at some time or another in his or her life. Some people recover from these experiences; however, the devil has used memories of rejection to keep others in an emotional prison for the rest of their lives. These are the people who never feel wanted and accepted, nor do they feel like they can measure up to other people.
It could be that I’m describing something you have experienced in the past. Perhaps it is a recent event that is still very fresh in your memory.
Personally, I am thankful that what happened to me had no long-term effect on my life; in fact, today I even laugh about it. However, I know many people who were devastated by rejection at some point in their lives and never recovered from it.
I’ve had many other opportunities to feel rejected since my junior high years. For instance, after my family and I moved to the former Soviet Union in 1991, we poured our whole lives into this land. We invested our monies, energies, and nearly every ounce of our strength into establishing churches, broadcasting the Word on television, and enriching the lives of the people in this region of the world. But time and again I’ve been shocked by the editorials and newspaper articles that accuse me and our ministry of being criminals, cult leaders, a dangerous sect, and so on.
Regardless of who we are, we all deal with these issues from time to time. Therefore, it is essential that you and I make a decision about how we are going to react when something occurs that makes us feel unwanted, abandoned, or rejected. Personally, I have always turned to First Corinthians 1:28 when I’ve felt tossed aside by friends, by the world, or even by the Church. This scripture has always been a source of strength to me, for it says, “And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen….”
When Paul wrote that verse, he was writing to the Corinthian believers, who were being ostracized and deemed stupid by the unbelieving community in the city of Corinth. The unbelieving citizens didn’t understand the Christian faith. But instead of trying to understand, they just decided that Christians were stupid and out of touch with society. In fact, their disdain for Christians was so intense that Paul said they “despised” the Corinthian church.
The word “despised” is the Greek word exoutheneo. This Greek word means to make light of, to despise, to treat with contempt, to disregard, and to neglect. It pictures someone low and detestable whom others perceive as hideous, disgusting, despicable and nauseating. In fact, this word describes a person who is such an outcast and so low in other people’s opinions that they don’t even consider him worth recognition. People just want to shut their eyes and pretend this person isn’t there — to ignore him and to go their own way. But notice the end of the above verse: It boldly announces that the people whom the world rejects are the very ones whom God has chosen!
First Corinthians 1:28 could be translated:
“God has picked out people who are laughable, and through them He is confounding those who think they are high and mighty. Low-class, second-rate, common, average, run-of-the-mill people — those so low that the world doesn’t even think they’re worth the time of day — these are the ones whom God has chosen….”
Have you noticed that the lost and unbelieving world still tries to ignore believers and pretend they’re not there? This is nothing new. In the verse above, the Greek tense indicates that the lost world’s terrible opinion of Christians will continue to prevail.
In First John 5:19, the Bible explains why the world refuses to acknowledge those of us who are believers: “…The whole world lieth in wickedness.” As long as the world lies in the grip of wickedness, we may as well accept the fact that the unbelieving world will mock and make fun of us, no matter what we do to try to change their opinion. It’s just the way a lost world is going to act!
Rather than let other people affect your self-image and confidence, you need to know who you are in Jesus Christ and hold your head up high. You have no reason to be embarrassed or ashamed. From the beginning of time, the lost world has ridiculed, made fun of, sarcastically accused, and debased the people of God. There is nothing new about this at all.
The devil may try to use your friends, your family, your business associates, or your school teachers to make fun of you and drag you down, but you don’t have to let the devil’s plan work against you. In times like these, remember that Jesus was also “despised and rejected of men” (Isaiah 53:3).
You are in good company with Jesus! So if the world makes light of you or treats you with contempt — if it disregards, neglects, and overlooks you — take heart! You are exactly the kind of person God wants to use! He has big plans to use you as a demonstration of His almighty power to your friends, to your family, to your business associates, and to the unbelieving world!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I am so thankful that You chose me! Even though the devil has tried to use people to tell me that I would never be worth anything, You wanted me and sought me out until I finally heard Your voice and surrendered to Your call. I am so grateful that the opinion of the world about me wasn’t true. I’m so glad that You pursued me with such a mighty love and that You refused to give up on me. What else can I say to express my heart to You? I can only say, “Thank You, Jesus!”
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that because I am in Christ Jesus, I have no reason to be ashamed of who I am. I do not allow other people to affect my self-image and confidence. Because I know who I am in Jesus Christ, I hold my head high and refuse to be embarrassed or to let anyone make me think I am inferior or less than who Jesus made me to be! I am exactly the kind of person God wants to use. He has BIG plans to use me in a mighty way!
Questions to Answer
1. Can you remember a time when you felt despised and rejected? Have you forgiven your offender for making you feel low-class, second-rate, unwanted, abandoned, and rejected?
2. Isn’t it comforting to know that God has not only provided a way out of rejection and bitterness for you through forgiveness, but He has also elevated and honored you by choosing you to fulfill His high call on your life?
3. How does it make you feel when you realize that God chooses people who, like Jesus, have felt “despised and rejected of men” so He can demonstrate His power and glory to the world?