by: Cris Corzine-McCloskey
Last week I came out of the closet and admitted my secret addiction…the addiction of people pleasing! From the feedback I received, I am not alone in my struggle. What we call people pleasing (aka co-dependency) God calls “fear of man,” and He does not consider it a virtue. Indeed, our memory verse for this series (Proverbs 29:25) warns: Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
Fear of man is so commonplace in our culture that it has created its own niche in the self-help industry. We love books about overcoming co-dependency and gaining self-esteem because deep down we know something is not right. It’s not natural for a need for anyone or anything to control God’s people. The issue with people pleasing and co-dependency is that we operate out of a need for people (their acceptance satiates our insecurities) rather than loving them in a way that glorifies God. And if we are afraid of people, what they may say about us or do to us, we are not trusting God. Psalms 27:1-2 reminds us that “The Lord is my light and my salvation, so why should I be afraid…when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.”
I promised last week that we would explore this topic from a biblical perspective, so the first example of how to live a life unaffected by these issues is Jesus. Jesus was completely unmoved by what people said about Him. It’s a good thing, too, because the buzz on the streets during His earthly ministry was more polarizing than Trump’s presidency! People called him a prophet, a glutton, a drunk, the friend of sinners, a demon-possessed Samaritan, the Messiah, a law-breaker, a blasphemer, and the Son of God, just to name a few. His first introduction to ministry was not very well received; they tried to throw Him off a cliff. And you thought Joel Osteen had it rough?!
Jesus is and was living proof that people do not need to think highly of you for you to be okay with yourself. And before you start protesting that it was easy for Him, I just want to remind you of a couple of pieces of wood and three nails. Jesus never hit the ‘easy button’ on anything. He is our example of loving people without needing anything from them. He completely trusted the Father, and from that, viola, he lived free of the opinions and schemes of others.
However, I know this is a huge topic, and it’s going to take more than just a few stanzas of “Jesus loves me” to free you from your fears. So I leave you with a Jesus quote from Luke 6:26. He said, “What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds.” Maybe he said that because he knows that you have to kiss a lot of backsides to gain the popular vote!