For Fear of Men
So lets be honest for a minute. Being liked feels good. Being followed on social networks gives your self esteem a boost. Seeing people click the like button on a post you make is a real boost for your day. Being accepted makes you feel acceptable, and that is a major good feeling.
I struggle like anyone else with this ego boost syndrome. I have often said, "I like being liked." However, at times this can cause a dilemma in my spirit. Seems like sometimes I have something to say that might offend some people and make them mad, and well, in our day and age, that can cost you. It can cost you likes on your post and page. It can cost you followers who no longer like you because you disagree on a topic. And this fear of being disliked can sometimes bridle the tongue when God clearly has something to say.
I never really faced this prior to what some would now call "popularity." When you are a little known someone, you tend to be bolder. When you become popular, saying what is on your heart or mind can suddenly change to saying only what is popular. For a person like me, who likes to be liked, this can be a real sore spot when God moves you in unpopular directions. "Should I say this or that, or repost that quote," takes on a whole new meaning.
Now in many ways, this is good because it has forced me to pray more and be more desirous of the Spirit's guiding. I of all men do not want to lead any astray. My deepest prayers now are that my words would guide people closer to God than ever before. Unfortunately, this sometimes comes with a double edged sword. Words cannot always be uplifting. Sometimes they come in the forms of rebuke.
I say all this because recently I reposted a picture with a quote against simply being religious and pushing men to seek God and be filled by His Spirit. I did it in the middle of my day as I was going about my work and when I later opened my page, all I could say was "Wow!" I did not realize how a few simple words could cause such polar opposite views. I was disheartened to see there was arguments and disagreements taking place, some very firm and bold. I can honestly say, I had no intention of that. However, I realized in that moment, and from some other quotes from earlier post in the week, I cannot please all men. It simply will not happen. And for someone who strives to be a pleaser, that is a harsh reality.
But this question begs to be answered. Would I prefer to please all men or to please God?
A simple off the cuff answer of "God" is what we all want to say, but the next question is this, "Does my life betray my answer?" In other words, do we say we want to please God but then live a life striving to please men more?
I admit for me, this is a very hard battle to wage. I was raised in an industry that requires pleasing people if you want to be successful and keeping people happy was the main priority. However, God works on a totally opposite playing field.
Look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:32-42 and Luke 12:49-53. Jesus said he came to bring division. In other words, following Him would cause strife even in the closest of circles. Following Jesus would mean walking in the opposite direction of the world and opposite of pleasing men. The Apostle Paul told us to strive to live at peace with all men, but he himself was not afraid to oppose those in the family of God who were misleading others with a false gospel.
Basically, what I am trying to say is, following Jesus is costly! In John 6, starting in verse 25, Jesus lays out how costly the path would be to follow him. He said in Luke 9:23 that following him required denying yourself (your desire to be liked) and take up a cross (a sign of death) and follow Him. He said no one putting his hand to a plow and then turning back was worthy to be his disciple. (Luke 9:62). Jesus made very sharp lines of division in the sand because he knew living for the Kingdom of God in this world would cause division with those who preferred the here and now.
Now personally, I hate offending or upsetting anyone, however, I must be careful not to fall in my own trap of being a natural born people pleaser in order to obtain followers. Rather, I pray that I am a man who seeks after God's own heart and says boldly the words God has laid upon my heart. I pray God will raise up a generation of men and women who are not afraid to be Kingdom of God seekers and who are not ashamed of the Gospel of the good News of Jesus and the Kingdom of God.