I recently posted on Facebook some pictures from a concert I went to. I heard the Christian group For King and Country. The pictures show that there were a lot of lights and color and a variety of instruments. There were drums and guitars and a whole lot of noise. People have various tastes in music and this might not have been everybody’s favorite, but I really enjoyed it.
After I posted the pictures I thought of how some years ago, if it became known that a pastor went to a concert like this, it would have provoked some discussion and some people would have been a bit concerned. Some things change over time and now I don’t think it’s too big a deal. It doesn’t matter much to me at all whether it is or not.
It’s easy to become a prisoner in the court of public opinion. Oh, how we worry about what people think. “Will people think this tie is too wild? Will they think I’m a bum if I don’t wear a tie? If I drive a nice car will people think I’m wasteful with my money? If I drive a junker will they think I’m not very successful? If I buy something at the deli and bring to the church potluck will people think I’m lazy? If I make something will people like it?”
Worry about what people think can influence our actions and cause much stress. Sometimes new paths of adventure aren’t explored, new attempts at serving aren’t tried, and new friendships aren’t developed because of concern over the opinions of others. People keep doing the safe and familiar because they’re afraid of what others might think if they try something new.
Jesus wants to set us free from all that. We can be set free to sincerely serve God and people. We’re free to seek to do what is right, not just what is popular. Because we’re loved by God and chosen by Him, we’re free to fail in our attempts at service. We’re free to worship the Lord. We’re free to enjoy God’s good and gracious gifts. We’re free to give up the pursuit of trying to please the crowd. Instead we can focus on pleasing the Lord.
In the Gospels we see Jesus truly loving people, but not worrying about what they think of Him. It was the religious leaders who cared a great deal about what people thought of them. Some believed in Jesus but wouldn’t confess their faith because of fear of the crowd. “… for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:43). Jesus didn’t worry about what people might think if they saw Him speaking words of kindness to a prostitute, touching a leper or eating a meal in the home of a tax collector. He didn’t worry if people thought, “He shouldn’t hang out with people like that.” They muttered, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner'” (Luke 19:7). Their mutterings didn’t matter to Jesus. He knew how fickle public opinion can be. On Palm Sunday a crowd hailed Him as king. On Good Friday another crowd yelled, “Crucify him!”
The opinions of people bounce up and down. Worrying about what they think is like riding a roller coaster that isn’t nearly as fun as those in an amusement park. We love people and serve them, but we know sometimes our service will please them and sometimes it won’t. Our main concern is pleasing God and following His leading. What pleases God doesn’t change. Believing in Jesus, trusting Him and loving Him, pleases the Lord. His opinion is we’re His beloved children when we have faith in Jesus. That’s the opinion that matters most.