privatized faith | John 12.42-43
42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:42-43 | ESV
Now, off the record, many of the in-crowd were totally convinced Jesus was the real deal – just don’t quote them on that because they would deny it in a heartbeat – the last thing they wanted to do was jeopardize the approval rating from their colleagues! Those voices far outweighed God’s much less tangible endorsement. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“Am I now seeking the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men I would not be a servant of Christ.”
So announces Paul boldly, defiantly, to the Galatians, who had perhaps been told by religious rivals that he was a bit on the fickle “people-pleasing” wish-washy side. Paul uses the word “eye-service” in his instructions to slaves – that state of working hard when the boss is watching, and slacking when he’s not.
We can be so slavishly devoted to pleasing the eyes we feel resting upon us. We call this phenomenon, “peer pressure” – and, no, it’s not the exclusive domain of teens. We all naturally keep one eye on others and their expectations to make sure we are fitting in – especially when we see those others to be in positions of power.
No need to rock the boat, to stir up trouble with them!
We fit in.
We march lock step with others.
We laugh when they laugh.
We sneer when they sneer.
We kick when they kick.
And we use their labels.
Deep down we may know differently, but what good would it do to ruffle those feathers? So we are quiet in the face of injustice. We acquiesce to wrongs done to others by the group – after all, why draw attention to ourselves? We could be next! Faith loses its voice, fearing reprisal, rejection. Each compromise, each breach of integrity is justified, rationalized. It’s “for the greater good” – namely our own.
No, this isn’t a flattering profile, but before we pile on to these religious leaders who were afraid to stand up or stand out for their moral cowardice and lack of courage, we would do well to remember that they didn’t hold exclusive rights to such flaws.
It’s not, “there but for the grace of God go I” – it’s “there go I.”
But then, by the grace of God, there’s an awakening of courage, of faith to stand, to speak, to come out, to stand up – combined with the wisdom of knowing the how and the when.
Oh elusive gift!
May it find its way into our hearts.
How frequently do you find yourself gauging your words and actions based on how you feel or fear others will react rather than on the inherent rightness and necessity of those words and actions? What is the key to breaking the power of unhealthy peer pressure in our lives?
Lord, set me free from living for the “likes” of others. Let it be your “like” that I seek this day. Let me not be a slave to courting or trampling the favor of others. Let me driven by the deep seated motive of your love, and let it please or displease those it may. Let it be your face that moves me. Through Jesus.