Being a College Pastor means that I am often required to stand in front of people and speak, sing, dance, act…, you get the idea. And whilst I’ve done this more times than I can count, without fail, every single time, a flood of irrational worries and nerves come upon my body. All of a sudden, I don’t remember how to do well, pretty much
anything. What if I stumble over my words, what if I do the wrong actions, what if I fall over… (yes, it happened a few weeks ago!)
If you’re honest, you, like me, have found yourself worried about what others may think of you. Maybe you’ve felt embarrassed by something your children did in public. Maybe you’ve refrained from posting a picture on social media because you didn’t look ‘good enough’. Maybe you’ve replayed a conversation in your head over and over, cringing at what you said. Or maybe you’ve let a moment sharing the Gospel or talking about Jesus pass, from fear of ruining a relationship? Deep down, we fear that others will reject us. And because of this, we seek the approval of those around us to give us significance and value. At first, this may seem fairly inconsequential, but these ‘opinions’ actually inform and guide how we do life.
How would you describe yourself? It seems like a simple question, but take a moment to really answer it. Now, take a moment to consider how God describes you. Did the descriptions line up? We tell ourselves things like, “I’m not loved”, “I’m not strong”, “I’m not enough”, “I’m not seen”, “I’m all alone”. But God says, “you are loved”, “you are strong”, “you are enough”, “you are seen” and, “you are never alone”. When we replace the worries of what we (and the world) tell us who we are, and replace them with who God says we are, we are able to live free of fear.
Jesus demonstrated this countercultural behaviour in a way that would make us squirm. Could you imagine, being at church on a Sunday morning, everyone wearing their Sunday best when all of a sudden you see something that dishonours God? So, naturally, you pull out your whip, start flipping the tables and chairs, and begin shouting at the pastor. If this were to happen, we’d call the person an extremist, insane, or even call the police. I’m not suggesting this is how we are to act. Rather my point is, that Jesus didn’t allow what the people thought to stop Him from being all that God had designed Him to be and do. And neither should you. In Galatians 1:10 it asks the question, “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God?” Jesus broke the rules, made scandalous statements, and touched the untouchable. All in His mission to bring about the Kingdom of God. Jesus knew that in the end, it was God’s opinion that mattered. All the people around Him would soon turn to dust, but God, He is eternal.
No matter how perfect we are, we always risk rejection. The world is quick to condemn, but there is One that will always love you. A God that calls you worthy and valuable. This means, you no longer need to live in fear of what others think.
Jacqueline Newell, Primary College Pastor