Our fear of rejection is ultimately our fear of death. It’s our fear of being left on the outside, being left out forever. It’s our fear of insignificance, our fear of not mattering, of not being noticed. So many live their lives alternating between fear and ambition, desperately wanting to belong, to fit in, to be in the inner ring and despairing that we won’t ever be on the inside or constantly afraid of losing what we think we have.
But Jesus is the perfect man. If anyone should be received, should be accepted, it’s Jesus. But He comes offering life that isn’t wound around the inner circle of human clubs and clicks. He comes offering life that is found in God. But this inner circle functions on grace. Instead of functioning on fear and ambition, it runs on generosity, forgiveness, and freedom – and it’s open to anyone. But for human beings who have fear and ambition in their bones, this is incredibly scary. It requires us to let go of our fears and ambitions. It requires us to lose our grip on the social ladder, the business ladder, the political ladder. There’s something inside every son or daughter of Adam that ultimately refuses to let go. We won’t let go of this cage. We hate this way of life and yet something deep down inside of us loves it. We are insane sinners so we believe the lie that someday we will arrive at a place of peace and security, but so we keep on trying to get in, to stay in. Part of this is because we are delusional; part of this is because we keep on sinning. Sin and its attendant guilt makes us try to climb faster. It makes us more afraid of not being inside the inner ring, and it makes us even more desperate to get in and stay in. The more the sin, the more the guilt, the more the fear of exclusion and death hound us, like that sinking sensation that you’re going the wrong way and you don’t know the way back.
So God in His great mercy determined to conduct the great prison break of human history, but He knew that we would never follow Him out of our prison cells on our own. So He sent His Son into this world knowing that because of His perfection, because of His goodness, we would hate Him, envy Him, and desire to rid the world of Him. But in the very act of rejecting Him, killing Him, He was receiving all of our selfish ambition and crushing fears. When we rejected Him, we unwittingly rejected and destroyed the power of ambition and fear.
This happened because Jesus was completely innocent. And because He was completely innocent God raised Him from the dead vindicating Him, declaring Him innocent and righteous in the sight of all men. And because He was raised from the dead, our hate and envy and fear and ambition is all rendered powerless and our circles are rendered impotent and worthless. There is only one inner circle really left in the world, it’s the inner circle of the Creator God: the Father, Son, and Spirit. And the way in is open to all through the blood of the Son and the power of the Spirit. This is the circle of grace.
Old habits die hard, and even Christians fall back into the old ways, into habits of fear and ambition. But stop and think for a moment. Remember that Jesus was killed and raised to free us from our foolish circles, our obsession with circles of emptiness. You have access to the Father through Son and by His Spirit. If you are a Christian, you are not on the outside in any meaningful way. You are already on the inside. You have been brought near to the center of the universe, to where all of the action is where you are valued, accepted, respected, recognized, and welcomed with joy. You are all the way in — you are in by His grace.