I am a non-confrontational, diplomatic, peacemaking people-pleaser who places far too much value on what other people think of me. Can I get a witness? The thing is, this deep concern over what others think of me is an idol. It is something that I’ve concluded, in my heart, I must have in order for my life to be meaningful, valuable, secure, exciting, or free.1
Here’s how Jesus handled some folks with a similar idolatry issue:
When Jesus returned to the Temple and began teaching, the leading priests and elders came up to him. They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right?”
“I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human?”
They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask us why we didn’t believe John. But if we say it was merely human, we’ll be mobbed because the people believe John was a prophet.” So they finally replied, “We don’t know.”
And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things. Matthew 21:23-27
How easy it is to just say “I don’t know;” to refuse to state a position, especially when it is not professionally, socially, or politically expedient. It has, unfortunately been my go-to phrase more often than I care to admit. But the consequences of “I don’t know” are dire. Jesus may just say, “This conversation is over!” like he did to the priests and elders, and I can’t live with that.
I stood for my convictions this week. It should have been easy, but I found myself, like the leading priests and elders in Matthew, weighing the consequences based upon what others might think of me, instead of simply resting in truth. I knew what to do the moment the conflict arose, but I waited and weighed mulled for almost a full week before finally leaving my “I don’t know” at the altar and giving voice to my Holy Spirit-soaked conscience.
Would you like to hear what else Jesus said to a group of folks who disapproved of his teaching? He said, “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.” (John 5:41-42). Wow! Now THAT’s the kind of idol-smashing attitude I’m after.