“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.”
They sit in a room being observed by prospective parents. These children can’t see the couple making the decision, but they know they’re being watched. One of them will soon be chosen for adoption. The others will be left out...outside the family.
Not many things in this life make us feel more unloved than the feeling of being left out…left out of activities, circles of friends, special projects. Whether imagined, or real, outside is a lonely place to be.
These feelings can be formed because of several reasons: age, marital status, culture, beliefs, physical appearance, etc.
What is there in your life right now that is excluding you from things you were once a part of? Is it a job, or a relationship? Maybe it’s a dinner or a wedding where you weren’t invited to participate.
Perhaps others classify you with who you are, or who you aren’t.
Ever been rejected by someone you admired and respected?
It can be devastating…being outside!
It can destroy our feelings of self-esteem. It can harm our efforts to reach our full potential.
It could possibly affect our health, our attitude toward others, especially toward those who have left us outside.
Mindy (not her real name) sat watching the power point presentation of her dear friends…pictures taken years ago when they were children. The music was perfect for stirring up feelings and emotions of love.
She was attending their wedding.
But she had been left out…outside the group of friends who formed the bridal party.
She sat there with tears in her eyes, chiding herself for even caring…for feeling sorry for herself. This was a joyous celebration. But her only feeling had been, “I was left out…outside.”
Laura’s special project had just been taken from her, and given to someone else without an explanation. What was once the highlight of her year, and occupied hours and days and months of planning and preparation, had now been given to someone else…taken from her.
Is jealousy at the root of this snatching on the one part, and losing on the other?
I say, “Yes.”
But regardless of feelings, one was inside, and the other was outside.
The friends at the wedding were on the inside; Mindy was on the outside.
It’s the feeling of inadequacy that they battle.
While I’m not an expert on analyzing emotions and feelings, I would like to attempt to help Mindy and Laura, and any other outsiders who might be reading this.
1. While I sympathize with my friends, we must realize that at the root of all negative feelings, whether brought on by real or imagined reasons, is sin. When we compare ourselves to others, we are saying, “I am as good…young…qualified…as you are; and how dare you leave me out!” The devil puts negative thoughts in the minds of my friends. The sooner they realize who is making them feel worthless, the better. Remember, God accepts you just the way you are. Ephesians 1:6 says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.”
2. Sometimes our emotions run wild, and pull our imagination along with it. Could it be that Mindy and Laura are imagining things that aren’t true? The author of confusion (see point 1) is also the great accuser. Revelation 12: 9, 10 calls the Devil or Satan “…the accuser of our brethren…”
3. Since Mindy and Laura are Christians, I must remind them that Romans 8:28 is still in the Bible, and applies not only to those who are suffering losses and hardships, but also to those who feel left out. They should remember that all the things that have been happening to them are working for their good.
4. My friends are self-centered, thinking only of themselves. Life is not all about them. They should take their minds off themselves, and focus on others who are suffering tragedies today. But above all, they should keep their focus on Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 says, “Looking unto Jesus…” It’s when we take our eyes off Him that we sink, like Peter did when he focused on the negative that surrounded him.
5. They should not follow their emotions. Pouting, withdrawal, and vengeance are the natural responses of the outsider. Those are immature characteristics of a child. I Corinthians 13:11 says, “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”
6. Mindy and Laura should realize that God is allowing these trials to come into their lives in order to conform them to His image. Romans 8:29 says, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his son…” John 15:18 says, “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.” Who more than our Master understands what it’s like to be left outside? Do we forget Him? Are we ashamed of Him? Do we share Him with others like we should? Do we include Him in our plans for each day, for our life?
7. There’s something else my friends should do. In fact, the Bible commands us to do it: Forgive those who have left them outside. This is perhaps the hardest step to take for the outsider. There is a burden lifted when we forgive. Sincere forgiveness frees us from bitterness. Colossians 3:13 admonishes us: “…even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Right alongside forgiveness is the advice given us in Matthew 5:44 “pray for them which despitefully use you…” Mindy and Laura, pray for those who have left you outside. There is a healing balm in those two exhortations the Bible gives us. Only then will you be free to serve the Lord, while living on the outside. Don’t let bitterness ruin your life, or your service for the Lord.
How many times have we, by our attitudes shut God out? And yet He loves us still; he doesn’t reject us. The Bible says in Isaiah 53:3, “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
There was no room in the inn the night of His birth. I wonder how Mary felt to be left outside to have her Baby. The very Son of God was left outside to be born in a stable, among the cattle. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11
While outside is a lonely place to be, it can be fatal. The well-known story of Noah and the Ark proves that to be true. Only the 8 people who were inside the ark were safe, while those who refused Noah’s 120-year invitation to join them proved to be their death. We can actually choose to live outside the will of God. He has a perfect plan for our lives. The first part of that plan is Salvation…the Salvation of our souls. We are born sinners, and at the root of our negative feelings, such as rejection, is sin. Romans 3:23 tells us that we are all indeed left outside, we’ve “fallen short.” We live in a world of sin. But Jesus died on the cross for our sin, and when we accept Him as our Substitute, and ask Him to forgive us, our sins no longer condemn us. We are free from sin’s condemnation.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, invites you to come inside the fold. If you reject that invitation, you indeed are outside.
And that could be fatal!