A guy on TV said he never went to a theater alone to watch a movie because he was afraid people would see him there by himself and think he was a loser who had no friends. He lived in a city and it was most likely nobody in the theater would know who he was and he’d probably never see them again. And yet he was concerned what these strangers might think of him. The fear of their opinion was determining his actions.
Why does it matter what some strangers think? They might be too busy eating their popcorn and not even notice him. And even if they did – what difference does it make?
Worrying about what others might think can become a cruel dictator that controls our actions, robs us of joy and fills our hearts with fear.
The apostle Paul wasn’t enslaved by fear of what people might think. In the book of Galatians he tells about meeting some of the leaders of the church. He appreciated the encouragement they gave him, but he didn’t have to have their approval. He was even willing to confront Peter when Peter was doing things that weren’t in accord with God’s Word. “When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong” (Galatians 2:11). Peter was leading people to believe they had to keep certain Jewish traditions in order to be right with God. Paul let him know that was contrary to Scripture. He wanted to make it clear that we get right with God by faith in Christ and not by following rituals. He did it even though there was a chance it might upset Peter and cause people to think Paul was a little brash. He was more concerned with what was true and right than what people thought.
Jesus most definitely was not worried about what people might think. He was willing to become one who “was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3). The religious crowd made accusations against Him because of what He ate and drank and who He hung out with. “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them” (Luke 15:2). They meant it as an insult but we ought to see it as a cause for thanksgiving that Jesus was called “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Luke 7:34).
Jesus can set us free from the fear of what people think. We don’t worry about how many likes our Facebook post gets, because we’re loved by God. So what if nobody chooses to go with us to the movie? God has chosen us to be His child. The crowd won’t approve of all of our actions, but when we have faith in Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross, He approves us to be in His family.
Our calling isn’t to get people to like us. It’s to love them and introduce them to the incredible love of Jesus. Sometimes the crowd may like us and sometimes they won’t. But God’s great love for us endures forever.