It is interesting to me how easy it is to get locked into the conflict of pleasing men, or pleasing God. It is easy to say that I will follow God, but when it comes time to do it, I find that I have this on-going dialogue in the back of my mind of what “so and so” will think.
This morning as I was reading my Bible, in Mark 11 Jesus comes in and clears the Temple again of the money-changers and people selling animals for sacrifice. The Israelite people had forgotten at this point that sacrifices were about giving from their own flock, not going and throwing out some money to buy an animal that they knew nothing about.
It reminds me of how often today people drop money into the plate at church without any idea of what it is being used for. I don’t know that giving in this manner is what God was speaking about when He talked about being a “Good Steward”. However, that is another post in the future.
The focus of today is that after Jesus had made this huge disturbance in the Temple, the religious leaders came and confronted Jesus about who gave Him the authority to do what He had done. This is where the conflict came in. Jesus caught the leaders in their own pride and desire to look good.
He asked them a question that caused them to have to confront the fact, that no matter how they answered they would make someone unhappy. It reminds me a lot of politics these days. We have people that say whatever people want to hear, with no intent on being able to fulfill what they have said they were going to do.
The problem that I have found with making decisions based on what others will think, is that it usually keeps me from following God.
Paul warned against it over and over again in the letters to the Churches, because he knew that it was not really possible to please men and follow God. Even in a country full of Christians I have found that following God often leads me away from the majority.
This is one of the hardest lessons to learn… To know that it is okay to walk your own path. It doesn’t mean that anyone else has to walk it, but it does mean that I must, if I am to follow Jesus.
I learned a long time ago that each of us has a different path to walk. For those of us that are following the Holy Spirit, we are all moving towards the same place, which is Jesus. However, since we all started from a different point, often times the walk looks very different for each person. This is why it is so important to walk the path that Jesus has for you! It is not about fitting into a mold or following a particular doctrine. It is about being willing to be stretched, be accountable, being faithful, studying for myself and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead me into all truth and most of all getting to personally know my Savior enough to know what He is calling me to do.
This does not happen over-night and has been one of the most difficult battles for me to win.
I can remember thinking about how different people would react whenever I made a decision. Somewhere down the list was what Jesus thought, and whether or not it was the right thing to do. Every decision was filtered through the list of people that I was giving control to. I allowed certain people to unknowingly have control over my every thought and decision, as I wrestled through what to do. The whole time I was not aware of how I was allowing the fear of others, to have ultimate control over my life.
I can now see why Paul spoke so often about not allowing others to have control in my life. The problem is that it is almost impossible to please people and follow God at the same time. The real issue is that if I allow people’s opinions to be my guide I will end up following them, and may miss out on what God has for me.
I will also say that as dangerous as it is to allow others to decide my course, it is equally as dangerous to not allow others to speak into my life!
I have some amazing people around me that have proven again and again, that they are out for what is best for my life. They have shown a willingness to get involved, to stay involved and to listen for God in what I am doing. They are not afraid to share with me when they think that I am not following the right path, however they are also willing to hear and really listen for what God is saying. They are not quick to judge or tell me their opinions, but will caution me and walk with me as we move forward.
This is the basis of fellowship and really what the Church is all about. A group of people, all moving closer to Jesus, but allowing for the different paths that each one may have to walk… They trust each other and walk together, even thru the mistakes that happen along the way. They care more about the journey than the moment to moment things and really believe that if each one is truly following Jesus to the best of their ability, then God will not allow them to fall but instead will fulfill Romans 8:28 in each person’s life.
In the Church, faith in Christ is bigger than the fear of failure or the shame that the world expects when someone makes a mistake. In the Christian faith the only mistake, is when someone goes astray and doesn’t learn from it.
I am so thankful that God is teaching me how to listen to the right voices, to silence the ones that speak fear and especially to hear His Spirit speaking, whether it is through another person or God’s word.
I am at a place in my life that the opinions of others have less and less of an effect on my choices and decisions. This has allowed me to find freedom and to follow God in so many new ways.
I truly believe that this is one of the keys that must be found to find the abundant life that Jesus speaks of in John 14:27. I also believe that this is one of the foundational battles that will have to be won to really be able to follow Jesus and be free of what the world tries to bind Christians with. As long as I allow the opinions of man to steer my choices, I will be bound to man and not to God.
I know one thing… I do not want to stand before the Lord and realize that I allowed someone to be lord of my life instead of the LORD. We are all being led by someone and the truth is that we will only allow one master of life. It will be man or God.
So as is so often the case, today who will you and your house serve? As for me and my house we will serve the Lord Jesus Christ and follow the Holy Spirit into all Truth.
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