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“Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient ‘the stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone,’ and ‘a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.’ They stumble, being disobedient to the Word, to which they also were appointed. But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him Who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” (1 Peter 2:7-10)

One of life’s more difficult experiences is that of rejection—not being invited or chosen or accepted by those whose association we seek. From childhood spats to teenage peer struggles to social media FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) to adult relationship issues—from not being “chosen” for that sports team, that musical role, that academic award, that job promotion—life is filled with the sorrow and stigma of rejection on every human level. Emotional and even spiritual survival often hinge on learning coping skills, both putting our this-world rejections into Christian perspective as well as appreciating how we have been chosen and invited to truly belong to God’s family in Christ. Much of this life angst can be dissolved by focusing on the One Whose loving relationship matters most to us.

Yet how is it that the holy, perfect God chose unholy and unworthy sinners like you and me to be His very own? As Peter and the other holy writers emphasize, it’s not because of something in us. By nature, we chose sin and darkness and  “were not a people of God.”   Yet  “we received mercy”  as God’s compassionate heart reached out to us in eternity, choosing His beloved Son to be our Savior and our Reconciler. He is the  “chief cornerstone”  (Psalm 118:22) upon which our faith, our lives and His Church are built. Formerly outcasts and outliers, in Christ we now truly “belong.” To us who believe, there is no one and nothing more precious.

Sadly, however, there are also many then and now who spiritually “stumble and fall” over this Rock, rejecting Him and His salvation and choosing for themselves the divine judgment and destiny of the “disobedient.” While we also were once among them, we “are now God’s people,” having “received mercy.” Has there ever been a greater “before and after” contrast than that?

Now in Christ you are one of God’s very own, redeemed and rescued from a life and eternity of sin, selfishness, rejection, and separation. And while you in your life have received many terms of endearment from those near and dear to you, nothing can possibly compare to how your God now sees and describes you in Christ:

“A chosen generation” —God’s heart and hand-picked child from eternity in Christ Jesus,

“A royal priesthood” —spiritual royalty now invited to enter God’s presence to offer prayer and praise,

“A holy nation” —belonging to the Holy Christian Church, redeemed and cleansed to glorify Him,

“His own special people” —truly God’s own and the “apple of His eye” (Psalm 17:8) whom He loves, cherishes, rejoices in, and cares for.

Given our wonderful new relationship, status, and calling in Christ, we now delight in the privilege of  “proclaiming the praises of Him Who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.”   This is our now and forever “thank you” to the God whose grace and mercy alone has made us who we truly are. So, whenever life moments arise when we feel we don’t belong, be it in the world out there or sometimes in our own world, take heart. In Christ, we do truly belong to God. And because we belong to God, we also belong with the Lord now and evermore.

David Schierenbeck is a retired pastor and a member of the CLC Board of Doctrine. He lives in St. Paul Park, Minnesota.