If there’s one thing I learned last year that I believe God is still teaching me today, it’s learning to live to please God and not men.
The cost of following Jesus is high. It’s life for life. Anyone who wants to follow Him must deny himself and take up his cross daily. And sometimes, taking up our cross means choosing Jesus over the convenience of being accepted by everyone.
Don’t get me wrong. Getting along with others is not at all bad. In fact, God wants His people to make it their ambition to be at peace with everyone. But being at peace with people does not necessarily mean you have to seek their approval or please them to the point of compromising your character.
As a believer and follower of Christ, we need to understand that our ultimate goal and purpose here on earth is to please God, to worship Him and to love Him above all things and to love other people the way He loved us.
But because we are still living in this broken world, God allows us to experience things and meet people who will test our devotion to Him. I believe I’m at a point where God gives me the opportunity to practice and apply this truth to my life but sadly, I’m not faring well because I’m still holding on to my well-preserved image of being liked by everyone instead of being hated because I chose to follow Jesus.
A few months ago, I saw this passage during my quiet time. These are the Words of Jesus from the Book of Matthew:
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disown me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:32)
The passage caught my attention because I never thought about it before. I know that Jesus came to earth to bring peace but how come He’s saying now that he did not come to bring peace but to turn people against each other?
My insights on what Jesus meant when he said these in this passage is this: It’s true that Jesus came on earth to bring peace to everyone. But His ultimate purpose was to offer salvation to everyone by putting our Faith and Trust in Him. The Gospel He’s preaching is this: ‘repent for the Kingdom of God is near.‘ The offer is open to all but since He knows the heart and mind of every person, He also know that not everyone will believe Him and so accept His offer. And because of that, He knows those who are his and who are not. So those who want to come to Him, He welcomed them, those whose hearts are not right, he rebuke and let them go their own ways but still, He waited patiently for them to come back (e.g. the rich young ruler).
My point is, it’s true that we can’t please everybody. Even Jesus wasn’t able to please everybody and that’s why he was put to death right? The Bible is full of account how Jesus deal with religious Pharisees who are seemingly interested to listen to Him but deep down in their hearts they are only looking for grounds so they can prove Him guilty of the sin He had never committed.
This was also confirmed to me when our Pastor told us in one of his Sunday message that it’s ok if some people won’t like you because of your devotion to God. It’s either they will be drawn to you because their hearts are right and will also desire the same kind of relationship you have with God or they will resist you because of their own selfishness and pride and because they believe the lie that they can’t change. The best way to deal with the second type of course is to pray for them and ask God to change their hearts.
Once we made that decision and lifetime commitment to follow Jesus, expect that there will be persecution and it may come in different form. They may laugh at you and even mock you but it’s ok. Persecution may sometimes come even from our own friends and family. They may even hate us because we chose God over them. But what Christ wants us to do is to obey Him completely and endure all the hurtful words we hear. He wants us to take a step of faith and trust Him that He will take care of whatever we’ve left behind for Him. And of course, He wants us to forgive those people who have hurt us because of their lack of understanding of our choices.
I’d like to share this antidote for people pleasing I learned from Pastor Rick Warren last year and still trying to apply in my life this year. I believe that life will be a lot easier when we learn to accept this truth. As what Rick Warren has said,
“There’s only one person in the universe who knows you completely, who accepts you unconditionally and who knows the purpose you were created for: JESUS CHRIST. You need to get to know Him and make sure that His opinion of you matters more than anybody else.”
At the end of the day, it’s always between you and God.