The Chase for Approval

“They have no guts to stand up for what their beliefs are because they’re afraid of criticism…they want to be accepted by people that hate ‘em. They want to be accepted by people that despise ‘em. It makes no sense to me.”

I was dumbfounded by that statement. The man on TV was certainly not talking about religion, but I was flabbergasted by how perfectly that description describes Christians today…describes me.

Do I live in a way that tries to gather acceptance from the world, who quite honestly despises me? In John 15:18, Jesus warns his disciples, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” If it violently hates my Master, if it has loathed and hated and tortured Christians before me – what on earth am I doing trying to be loved by it? Why? It really doesn’t make any sense.

The truth is that I love being praised. I love applause, I like to be in the spotlight, and I just like everyone to recognize how amazing I am. (Lord, forgive me for such pride!) So much of what I do is done without realizing the motivations behind it. And if I spend my time trying to satisfy my pride, chasing after approval from the world…I’m not only doing something that’s probably wrong, I’m doing something dumb.

If you’ll excuse the slightly corny example, what if we had said in WWII, “You know, I know we’re fighting a war and all that, but I’d like Hitler to realize what an amazing person I am. I think I’ll do things that he’ll notice and appreciate, and then he’ll point me out to the rest of the world!”

That would be stupid. Yet how is my life now any different? If I try to get the approval of the world – who hates Jesus – then I’m entirely missing the fact that they hate me too. Satan’s not interested in niceties. He wants to kill me. And I want to cozy up with his followers?

This mindset, subconscious though it may be, is crippling. As the quote notes above, if we’re seeking approval and praise from the world, then we’re also weak. We’re not strong enough to stand up for what is right and what we believe in, because we’re afraid of the criticism. Everyone knows that being a magnet for criticism is no way to be adored!

It’s hard for me to get it into my head that there is a supernatural war going on. I mean, the sun is shining, it’s a beautiful day…I don’t see any war. But whether or not I see it, I do need to acknowledge that it’s real, because otherwise it will take me by surprise. And perhaps the first step to this acknowledgement is to start marching under the right banner and stop trying to be friendly with my enemies!

I know this is a vague post. And it’s hard to give practical suggestions on this topic, and the issues become even more convoluted since we’re supposed to be in the world but not of it, and we’re supposed to love others for Christ. Yet it really is an important issue, and the more we pray and seek to be aware of exactly who it is we’re trying to please by our actions, the stronger and smarter we’ll be.

-- from the archives


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