The Black Sheep
A black sheep is an idiom used to describe someone who is different than everyone else. The Black sheep often strive to be apart of the herd, yet he/she usually faces rejection from the others.
Realizing that you are the black sheep is never fun. Of course, we can’t always expect to fit in everywhere, all the time, with every single group of people, but church should be the one safe place that everyone, regardless of their past, nationality, gender, political views, or culture, should be able to feel accepted.
Of course we know this, so why then, do people continue to face rejection in church?
Rejection can be leaving someone out, disapproving their feelings, or not caring for them. The devastation of rejection can create doubt and fear, and even worse, can cause people to walk away from church and God altogether. We have the responsibility to love others yet rejection is a form of hate.
The world is full of opportunities for rejection. However, the church should be the light of the world. That means we should be accepting, loving, and compassionate to everyone, regardless of the way they look.
So how does the church walk in affection and not in rejection? It’s all through communication.
Believe it or not, even David, the Great King, felt the weight of rejection. Let’s take a look at how rejection played a role in his life.
1 Samuel 25 begins with King David, the Goliath slayer, traveling with his army in the wilderness to send a message to a man named Nabal, a man described as “evil” and “harsh” who was married to a woman named Abigail, who was described as “beautiful” and “sensible.” Nabal had thousands of cattle, which was a sign of wealth.
“Nabal received a message from David and quickly said: ‘Who is this fellow David?’ Nabal sneered to the young men. “Who does this son of Jesse think he is”? (v.10)
It was the anointed King David, who could not know of him? King David reacted with anger and bitterness. A couple of chapters prior to Nabal receiving this message, we see how David became king. His father, Jesse, had many sons who were considered before Samuel to become king. All seven of them were presented in front of Samuel, except David. Samuel did not believe any of the sons were chosen by the Lord to be anointed and Samuel asked if there were any more sons.
“There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” (1 sam 16:11)
This is the moment of rejection that David experienced and would soon create a gaping wound within his heart. His own father did not value him or believe in him. He left him to tend the sheep because of his unbelief that David was fit to be king.
David wasn’t just tending the sheep, he was seen as the “black sheep.” His father rejected him and said you don’t belong. He wasn’t good enough. The root of rejection is not being enough.
The story reveals that David was anointed king, but the sting of his father overlooking him would remain. Eventually, David is faced with his rejection of his encounter with Nabal because Nabal was the exact representation of Jesse. The Bible mentions Nabal having “3,000 sheep” and David was rejected while he was sheep tending thus, Nabal became an instrument of rejection by disproving of David’s authority, but Abigail became a source of light in the midst of David’s tremble.
“Even when you are chased by those who seek to kill you, your life is safe in the care of the Lord your God, secure in his treasure pouch! But the lives of your enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling! When the Lord has done all he promised and has made you leader of Israel, don’t let this be a blemish on your record. Then your conscience won’t have to bear the staggering burden of needless bloodshed and vengeance. And when the Lord has done these great things for you, please remember me, your servant!”
Abigail spoke life to David, a man who became so angry he was going to kill her husband. Lysa TerKeurst in her book “Uninvited” clearly explains, “She spoke her words of truth in the tone of grace. After all, remember David was leading a mob of four hundred men with drawn swords to kill Nabal…but that’s not what who David was…Abigail spoke to who he was, not to how he was acting in the moment.”
Abigail’s language prevented planting seeds of rejection. We must change our language in our churches, our homes, and workplaces in order to plant seeds of love and acceptance through our actions. Rejection, whether covert or overt, brings feelings of: anger, bitterness, insecurity, hesitancy, sensitivity. We as believers have the responsibility to be a source of love and acceptance, because we are loved and accepted. We as believers have to understand that the rejected and broken come to church AND are already present in our churches. Accepting their brokenness is showing the love of Christ.
Verbal, straightforward communication can be tricky as people may say, “It’s not what you said, it’s how you said it.” Verbal communication is important in any relationship and in every piece of community.
Community begins with vulnerability. Community ends when that vulnerability is rejected.
One way to reduce rejection through verbal communication is to shift our language from “you should”, “you could”, or “that doesn’t make sense” to “me too” and “I’m here for you.”
“You could” and “you should” statements makes the advice about instructing them and not helping them. These statements focus on the person giving the advice because it makes a person feel like they are being “preached” at. Sometimes people don’t need instruction, they need acceptance. That acceptance comes from someone genuinely listening to their worries/prayers/problems.
Lysa TerKeurst explains, “Acceptance is like an antibiotic that prevents past rejections from turning into present-day infections.”
Saying “me too” allows you to become compassionate and relatable in community. Saying “I’m here for you.” says I care about you and you are not a burden because love covers. We must try to understand, in order to show love. We must allow people to feel and not reject their feelings, in order to show love. You poke someone’s wound when you make any notion that their feelings are unreasonable or wrong. Abigail was not reactionary and as a result, she changed the course of David’s life with the power of the tongue.
Rejection does not solely manifest in the form of words. A person’s body language can tell a story. The moment Jesse left David outside tending the sheep was evidence of his rejection of David. We must become aware of our nonverbal communication because it has an impact.
Don’t “pretend” you didn’t see that person you are angry with. A smile is worth a thousand words.
Don’t leave out the girl you know is different from you. You can be the difference in her life.
A Note to the Rejected
Lies flee in the presence of truth. The truth is you have a Father who has loved and accepted you since before you were born. He is close to the brokenhearted, when you became broken from rejection. The enemy wants you to feel rejected and lonely but don’t forget He was rejected. He carried the world’s rejection on the cross, where he felt the greatest pain. He was rejected so we wouldn’t have to be, so we could be examples of love and acceptance for others.
When you are rejected, remember the One who was rejected. Remind yourself that we are all the black sheep in the world’s eyes. But truly believe you can be the black sheep because you are led by the Shepherd. The Shepherd will leave the ninety-nine for the one sheep. That one sheep could have been the rejected black sheep. In the end, you don’t have to believe the lies that you are not good enough because you are loved, you are worthy of love. I pray you will believe this wholeheartedly and begin a journey living like you are loved.
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