This is one of those times where I have to admit something that I really don’t like to admit… I have to admit that I struggle with fear. This is not the normal type of fear…not about monsters under my bed or being alone in the woods at night. I’m not worried about those things (except zombies…for some reason I have an irrational fear of a totally fictitious creature…don’t judge me). No…my fear runs much deeper…
I was talking to some people a few years ago and they had what I would refer to as some “strange beliefs.” These are not the typical areas of debate, like Christians drinking alcohol or speaking in tongues. These were areas that were much more on the fringe and not at all the central point of Scripture. During these conversations, I found myself conceding to many of their positions…and I actually strongly disagreed with them. I had a hard time telling them directly that I thought that they were wrong. (Those of you that know me well may have a hard time believing this but it is a true story.) I found myself trying to find a synthesis with my positions and theirs. What I mean is that I found myself trying to find some middle ground where both of our beliefs could coexist with no problems. The issue with this is that there are many subjects where there is really no middle ground. Where would we be if we tried to give in a little to the “you shall not murder” command?Yet, in these discussions, I continually find myself wanting to find a middle ground…which truly does not exist.
Why do I do this? I ask myself that question more than you can imagine. As I begin to process through it, I find myself coming to certain conclusions. I don’t want for them to view me as a small minded fundamentalist. I don’t want them to think of me as an “inside-the-box” type of guy. I don’t want them to think me harsh or severe. And the best one…if I’m really honest here…is that I want them to like me. I want to be accepted.
This all comes from what we refer to as the “fear of man.” It’s a great plague on our society and a greater one within the church subculture. Fear of man leads us down a path of trying to keep everyone happy. This premise is totally flawed to begin with…because we cannot keep anyone happy…ever. When keeping others happy is my central focus, I will give in to strange doctrines. I will become accepting of lifestyles or actions that are contrary to biblical values. I will begin to change what God has said about right and wrong to what man says about right and wrong because I am more fearful of man than I am of God. That statement really was difficult type.
The really great irony is that when I act this way, I do so to keep myself free from being put in a box of some kind…and yet I end up feeling so bound up. I cause myself to be chained down by the opinions of others. When I am more honest about what I believe and put more trust in God than in my ability to keep others happy…wow…that is freedom.
I want to be an honest man. I want to do so and focus on loving my God in truth. I struggle with not being honest but being too diplomatic. I struggle with playing the part of a slimy politician that tells people what they want to hear in order to keep them supporting them or liking them. Strangely, this is one of the biggest battles I face daily in conversation…because people don’t like to be disagreed with…and they tend to not like those that disagree with them…and now we are back to square one…
One of the greatest tests of my faith is this thing. It is putting my trust in God and His providence for my life as opposed to how many friends I can win over. My concern has got to be about maintaining my integrity with my beliefs…and not with winning a popularity contest.
“The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25 ESV)
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