You have sensed it before. The stiffening of a group of people as you came forward to enter into their conversation. The glassy looks on the faces as you offered some comment of good will or humour. The unspoken sense that you really had no part in them or in what was happening. The common topics of community, sports, weather, neighbourhood happenings appearing somehow off-limits to you. The expectation that you would move on elsewhere.
This is rejection, plain and simple. A putting off of your statement. What statement? Perhaps you have said nothing. But in the past your actions, omissions and expressions of face have spoken volumes to these people. You are a Christian, and a zealous one. The word has gotten around, making others uncomfortable. Old evangelists such as Finney used to talk of how one's presence ought to evoke a sense of "present duty felt".
It wasn't spelled out this way at Church. Supposedly you held the pearl of great price, and by your "loveliness" could charm people into the Kingdom of Heaven. But you now discover the cool response and the rolling eye. Don't be surprised; you are part of the Church Militant and you are still living in an age of the humiliation of Christ.
Be encouraged. The word of scripture is full of assurances for you and the spirit of glory rests upon you in your humiliation. The Church Triumphant is still something for the future, when the whole planet will be covered with the knowledge of the Lord and the joy of His administration.
Listen to Peter the Apostle:
1 Peter 4:
12Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
14If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.
In Luke chapter 14 Jesus spoke of the wisdom of fully counting the cost of entering into His service. He drew the parallel of an army commander preparing for battle and a builder preparing for a construction project. This is what the Church elicits - a battle and a building. Jesus did not say that we had to have the resources within us. He simply admonished that we be sincere and prepared to offer up all that we had. It resembles the story of the little lad offering his lunch of fives loaves and two fishes, and the miraculous picnic resulting for the audience of five thousand and more!
Perhaps this posting is stern, but it is honest. We are to be salt and light. We are to 'take with us words' of redeeming effect.
I have experienced a portion of rejection today, and am trying my best to re-group, and to think it not strange.