Fearing God More Than People

Today I read John 12-14 and chapter 9 in Integrity. As I read the chapters in John there were two things that are rolling through my brain right now. First was the statement John made that there were Pharisees who believed that Jesus was who he said he was and yet they would never admit it for fear of the other Pharisees who would throw them out of the temple. Then he goes on to say they feared the praise of man more than the praise of God. I can understand how these guys felt. If they admitted they believed Jesus they would be marked by their own group as heretics or deceived and if they didn’t get reconvinced that the Pharisees way was the right way, they would be cast out and used as an example of what happens when you get “weak” or let the “world corrupt you.” Groups and organizations are powerful things in our lives. No one likes to be on the outside and the topic of negative discussion. These guys probably knew how it would go and knew how the other guys would talk about them because they had been parts of those conversations many times in the past. I have seen this happen with the christian “watchdog” groups. We had a guy come to Saddleback who saw that what he was writing about was off and that we did do things to grow people and presented the gospel. He quickly realized that he could not go back and say what he saw or he would be chastised just as he had chastised others over his years in this group. So, sadly, he went back and continues his ministry of bashing churches. Why do we all sacrifice our character for the sake of staying connected to our group?

Part of integrity is knowing when something is not right or working and being willing to change your mind to fit your new reality. It is a strength of character that gives you conviction and confidence without being arrogant or narcissistic. That type of person does not worry about who people think he/she is but rather is concerned with being true to who they were created to be. I really want to strive to have that kind of character in my life. Where what you see is what you get. Where failure is just a means to growth and moving towards the right thing. Where my reputation is not build on others perceptions but on the truth of my character and transparency. That is the only way not to get caught up in the “politics” of any one group and to be free to think and respond from a place of truth. That can be hard at times in ministry because people don’t always want the boat rocked or they have their own plans and desires that might not include yours, etc. Yet I have found that when I am true to who the Lord created me to be and not try to aspire to something I am not, I feel the most alive and passionate because I am living into my strengths and I am enjoying what I am doing now instead of wishing for something different in the future.

Lord, help me to maintain my character not matter what others think. I don’t want to shrink back on what I know is true for fear of how others will respond. Help me to be governed by the Holy Spirit and the conscience you have given me. Don’t let me fall into the trap of please people and judging my mood by how others feel about me. Amen.
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