The idol of approval

UbelievableThis morning I was challenged by a paragraph that I read in The Unbelievable Gospel by Jonathan K. Dodson.

“In Christ, we possess a power that can rip the muzzle off, chase away the shadows, and bolster winsome, authentic gospel witness. That power lifted Jesus out of the grave, but it sits latent in our blanketed heart, where we are inordinately troubled by what others think. Beneath the blanket of persecution there often lies a golden idol, the one thing we cannot live without – the approval of others. We pine for the approval of others and would rather quiet down about the good news than speak up and risk our coworker thinking we are preach, impersonal, or intolerant. Our reluctance to talk about Jesus springs from a desire to gain the approval of others instead of resting in the approval of God our Father. We desperately need to set apart Jesus as Lord in our hearts, not what others think as lord. This is where deep security is found. To get there, the idol has to be replaced with a greater God who offers deeper security and meaning. We need the gift of repentance, regularly, to exchange our worship of what others think of us for what God the Father thinks of us in Christ – fully loved, fully accepted, no condemnation, no rejection.”

This paragraph highlights two of the reasons why I often fail to speak up about what I believe.

The first is that I forget (or I never really learned) that the power that conquered death is promised to be operative in my life if I am in Christ. The power remains constant, my appropriation of that power is restricted by my weak faith.

The second is that I am far too concerned about alienating anyone and far too concerned about what others think of me.

To these, I can add a third reason. That reason is that I am very aware of my failures and do not want to be labeled as a hypocrite. The problem is that I will never perfectly live out the truths of Scripture. I should not let my failures deter me from sharing the gospel, because my failures are why I need the Gospel in the first place.

The solution to all three of this is rather simple to understand, but difficult to do. The solution is to take my eyes off myself and focus on Jesus (see Heb. 12:1-2). In those verses in Hebrews, Jesus is presented as enduring the cross for the joy of being united to believers as a result of his sacrifice.

Certainly then, I should be willing to endure a little embarrassment for the joy of seeing others come into relationship with God.