A terrible poison pill exists in our world today. Available like never before in any generation previous, it is lived for and even died for. If you take it, it will seem inocuous but ultimately prove disasterous. Nothing will take you out of the purpose and plan God has for you more subtly than this.
I’m speaking of course, of the problem of BEING LIKED.
The all consuming “Thumbs up”, “Followed”, “Hearted”, and perhaps even “Swiped to the right”. Our world has introduced us to a drug almost as dangerous as any substance. You can fall into the trap of wanting to be liked without even meaning to do so. You can pursue this cause at any time of the day doing any mundane activity you can imagine. Think of all the things you did in the 1990s (if you were alive then…) that a person you never met NEVER got to see you do!
This addiction can influence your best intentions, affect your job performance, invade your marriage vows and rob you of the calling God has placed on you. Should you pursue the almighty “like” you may find yourself incapable of bringing challenge and change to a world troubled by sin.
Why do we do desperately pursue being liked? I believe it goes back to the Garden of Eden shortly after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. Many people forget what they did FIRST after realizing they were naked. They didn’t FIRST hide from God. No. They went clothes shopping!
Genesis 3:7 (ESV) Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
Ever since, we’ve been sewing garments around ourselves in any number of vain pursuits to make our shame an invisible reality and sport our best efforts of personal improvement.
Now I’m not suggesting you stop trying in life. I’m just simply saying that if you do what you do for the approval of strangers and friends, you may start to do only what strangers and friend expect you to do.
I’m a Pastor. I get to preach God’s Word to others. But here’s the hard part of my job. I often have to say what people don’t like. At times I wish I didn’t have to do it. Even more, I have to make hard decisions for the church without telling everyone all the details surrounding that decision. Then I have to bear the accusations and blame for doing something others don’t undertand. Now, don’t think I’m very much troubled by these realities. I’ve been doing this long enough to stop obsessing over such fallout. It took time, but by God’s grace I’ve been somewhat innoculated from the desire to be approved of by you fine people at Waters Church. You should thank God for that.
Now, back to you.
Is there an area in your life that you are consistently following the likes of others instead of living from the LOVE of God? Hear me: the need for approval is not something we should shed. It is something we were made to have. We just need to get it from Christ! In Luke 12:35, “Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks.”
We need to serve the true master of our world. When we do, we start to live as the world needs and not as the world wants.
I talked about this in our latest Deep End Podcast while we discussed the glorious conversion of Saul of Tarsus. He who once sought the approval of his pharasiacal peers by hunting down those “wicked” followers of Jesus was crushed in an instant by the consuming shining Lord. Then he was led into the city to receive his heavenly mandate – a call to preach that Jesus to the nations. I share in the podcast this simple truth:
When you don’t NEED what the world can OFFER you, you can OFFER the world what God has GIVEN you.
Believe me, in Christ, you have something to offer the world. But you will always feel intimidated to share it until Christ is the Lord of LOVE in your heart and you know the world’s response to what you have to give is not the substantiation of that gift. I thank God Paul rooted himself in Christ’s call and not first century religious approval. None of us would know Jesus if he had done otherwise.
God’s grace is the antidote to the poison pill of other people’s approval. He takes you from where you are at, busily stringing together those woven fig leaves of job performance, physical beauty and accomplishment, then clothing you in the perfect righteousness of His Son and filling you with the Power of Himself, the Holy Spirit. This is how Paul can say, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
If you need the approval of others, one of two terrible things may happen. You may get it or you may never reach it. Both turn us into people pleasers. Again, Paul helps here: He told the Galatians who were seeking to bring Christians back under the Old Covenant laws these incredible words:
Galatians 1:10 (ESV) am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
The poison pill of being liked could undercut God’s calling for your life. Dump it. It’s never worth it. And generations from now, people will thank you for it.