Sunday’s sermon: Rejecting Rejection


Texts used – Psalm 27 and 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11

  • Dick Rowe[1] … a name that will forever live in infamy.
    • Senior A&R (artists and repertoire) man for Decca Records – “talent spotter,” as some have described the position
      • Find talent
      • Oversee recording process
      • Assist with marketing/promotion
    • Reportedly one of the most important music producers in Great Britain in the 1950s and 1960s
      • Signed incredible groups like The Rolling Stones and the Moody Blues as well as soloists like Tom Jones
    • But Dick Rowe will forever be known, not primarily for the bands that he did sign, but for the one band that he rejected – a quartet of young, shaggy-haired boys from Liverpool who were calling themselves The Beatles.
      • Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein paid Decca Records for an hour-long audition (enough time for 15 songs!)
      • Rowe’s reported response upon hearing the demo tape: “Not to mince words, Mr. Epstein, but we don’t like your boys’ sound. Guitar groups are on their way out.”
        • Words anyone would regret
        • To be fair, words that Rowe denied all his life
        • But whether he actually said those words or not, it cannot be refuted that Dick Rowe rejected the highest grossing, most popular, and most influential rock group of all time. … Ouch.
  • But Rowe certainly isn’t the only famously foolish rejection in history.
    • Literary publishing world
      • More than a dozen publishers turned down The Diary of Anne Frank with comments like, “The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift that book above the ‘curiosity’ level.”[2]
        • Currently published in 60 different languages with more than 30 million copies sold
      • 15 different publishers rejected a single mother named Joanne when she brought them a humble manuscript entitled Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
        • Currently published in 67 different languages with more than 400 million copies of books sold
        • Franchise (books, movies, video games, amusement parks, etc.) worth $25 billion making J.K. Rowling first billionaire author
    • World of patents and inventions → many examples, to be sure, but one in particular
      • William Orton
        • President of Western Union in 1876
        • Refused to pay $100,000 for a patent for a silly little contraption peddled by a man named Alexander Graham Bell
        • Response to the idea of the telephone: “After careful consideration, while it is a very interesting novelty, we have come to the conclusion that it has no commercial possibilities.”
        • 2 yrs. later – admitted that being able to purchase the same patent for $25 million would be a bargain
  • Friends, as we well know, the world is full of rejections. We’ve all had our fair share. “Thank you for your interest in the position, but we’ve decided to go with another candidate.” “Thank you for your hard work, but we’ve chosen to promote someone else instead.” “Thank you for a great evening, but I just don’t think this relationship is going to work out.” Thank you, but … thank you, but … thank you, but. Each rejection stings, no matter whether it’s business-related or personal. But what about rejections because of our faith?
    • Quote from Why Christian? Conference last year: Faith is risking rejection by the world.
    • Jesus talked time and time again about how those who followed him would be rejected by the world and how they needed to reject even family and loved ones to follow
    • Plethora of examples scattered throughout both OT and NT of those who suffered rejection for God’s sake
      • “Fathers of the faith” – Abraham, Jacob, Moses
      • Prophets
      • Early church disciples (Peter, Paul, Stephen, etc.)
    • Heck, today’s New Testament reading basically screams it at us – text: Dear friends, don’t be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings. Instead, rejoice as you share Christ’s suffering. You share his suffering now so that you may also have overwhelming joy when his glory is revealed. If you are mocked because of Christ’s name, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory—indeed, the Spirit of God—rests on you.[3]
      • “the fiery trials that have come among you to test you” – Gr. “test” = same word that shows up in Mt when Jesus gives the disciples the Lord’s Prayer → When we pray, “Lead me not into temptation,” this is that word. “The fiery trials that have come among you to test you … to tempt you … to try you … to entice you to stray.” This is some serious stuff that Peter is talking about. These are those moments when the choices we make for our faith are not the popular choices upheld by society.
        • Becoming more prevalent in an increasingly secular society
        • Choosing to come to church on Sunday morning → “Wouldn’t you rather just sleep in?”
        • Choosing to give money and time to the church → “Are you sure you can’t do more good somewhere else?”
        • Choosing to stand with those who society has pushed to the margins
          • Correcting other’s misinformation
          • Calling out prejudice when you see it
          • Defending someone being hassled for being different
          • Speaking up when it would be so much easier to stay quiet
  • All of these are ways that we choose faith over what is easiest, what is most comfortable, what is most popular. And that’s hard to do, especially when we’re already feeling tired or stretched too thin by the busyness of our day-to-day lives. So when we’re already feeling depleted, where can we find the strength to make those decisions in the face of the rejection that we know awaits?
    • Solidarity in numbers – 1 Pet: Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world.[4] → There is power in numbers, friends. This is the basis of our faith – why we gather together for worship and fellowship, so that we can be strengthened in our faith together, so that we can lift each other up and encourage each other when the need arises.
    • Ps: The LORD is my light and my salvation. Should I fear anyone? The LORD is a fortress protecting my life. Should I be frightened of anything? When evildoers come at me trying to eat me up— it’s they, my foes and my enemies, who stumble and fall! If an army camps against me, my heart won’t be afraid. If war comes up against me, I will continue to trust in this.[5] → We find strength in God, knowing that God hears our prayers – our pleas for strength, for help, for reassurance, for courage. God hears our prayers and walks with us in the midst of whatever trials we’re facing. Because when we are doing that work for our faith – being present, being generous, being an advocate for someone else – we are doing the work that God has called us to do as Christians.
      • Micah: He has told you, human one, what is good and what the LORD requires from you: to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.[6]
      • Speaks to other part of Anna Keating’s quote from Why Christian?: Faith is risking rejection (by the world), but faith is also about rejecting rejection – things like judgment, prejudice, and exclusion. → All of those things that people try to use as separators – as labels and categories that create an “us” and a “them” – are things that we are called to reject. All of those things that tell people they are not enough for the love of God. All of those things that tell people they are not enough for the grace of a Savior. All of those things that tell people they are not enough for the spark of the Holy Spirit. We are called to reject those things.
        • Hate
        • Fear
        • Misinformation
        • All of the “isms” and the phobias – racism, sexism, classism, ageism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, Islamophobia, etc.
        • These are all ways that the world rejects God’s own beloved children. But we are called to reject those rejections, to stand firm in the love of God and our call to share that love and God’s incredible light of hope and welcome with all no matter what darkness rages against us.
          • Sojourner Truth: I will not allow my life’s light to be determined by the darkness around me.
  • You know, ultimately, here’s the thing about rejection and faith: We are all imperfect beings. We all make mistakes. We all lose our way sometimes. We all make snap judgments and ill-informed decisions. We all have reason to cry out to God as the psalmist does: LORD, listen to my voice when I cry out— have mercy on me and answer me! Come, my heart says, seek God’s face. LORD, I do seek your face! Please don’t hide it from me! Don’t push your servant aside angrily— you have been my help! God who saves me, don’t neglect me! Don’t leave me all alone![7] So none of us are making our way in this world perfectly. We’re slogging through. We’re stumbling through. We’re limping through. We’re scraping our way through by the skin of our teeth.
    • Rest of the world = focused on perfection → advertising industry makes billions of dollars every year (roughly $200 billion dollars last year!!) trying to tell you how your life can be more perfect
      • Right clothes
      • Right car
      • Right look
      • Right house
    • But this is God’s house. This is a place of safety. This is a place of persistent hope. This is a place of extravagant and radical welcome. Isms have no place here. Lines of separation have no place here. This is a place where grace is enacted and rejection is rejected.
      • Hope in the LORD! Be strong! Let your heart take courage! Hope in the LORD!

[1] “Dick Rowe.”, accessed May 21, 2017.

[2] Brian Viner. “The man who rejected the Beatles” in The Independent, Written Feb. 12, 2012, accessed May 21, 2017.

[3] 1 Pet 4:12-14.

[4] 1 Pet 5:8-9.

[5] Ps 27:1-3.

[6] Mic 6:8.

[7] Ps 27:7-9.

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