Our theme for September is: Back To School. Even as adults who’ve long graduated from school, we still face tests and trials in the ‘school of real life.’
Growing up, my family moved around—a lot—even to other states. As I entered my teen years, moving became increasingly difficult. In the social hierarchy of a teenager, this meant I was on the bottom rung—right there with pond scum.
At first, I was content to remain invisible which left me lonely and depressed. So, I decided to change my game up. I needed to get the attention and approval of the popular kids.
After my parents went to work, I put together my best Madonna outfit (This was the eighties, mind you). I waltzed to the bus stop adorned in my fishnet stockings, wearing my mother’s stilettos. Well, I attempted to waltz anyway. I ended up breaking a heal before arriving. My hair was teased and sprayed so high, I’m surprised a bird didn’t attempt to nest there. Oh, and let’s not forget the bright pink lipstick, heavy dark eye makeup and black lace gloves.
What a sight.
Needless to say, I made an impression. The trouble was, I misrepresented myself. Nothing about my outfit said, “I’m an introvert who loves to read and spend time with her cat.” The impression I made was, “I’m a bad girl.” And since that’s what people expected, that’s what I gave them. It worked for awhile, until it got me into some serious trouble. Fortunately, we moved a year later and I was able to start over again, but not without scars that took years for Jesus to heal.
Why do human beings have such a need for approval?
Psychology tells us there are core needs shared by every person on the planet—physical and emotional. One of those needs is for approval.
This lines up with the Bible in that God put within us the need for approval and acceptance primarily for the purpose of driving us to Himself. The only way to receive God’s approval is through His son, Jesus. Only in Him will we feel truly loved and accepted.
Colossians 1:21-22 (NLT) “This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.”
Unfortunately our culture has magnified the human need for approval into a form of narcissism.
Here are a few of our society’s popular mantras:
- Be True To Yourself
- It’s All About You
- Look Out For Number One
- You’re Worth It
- Follow Your Heart (Disney’s favorite)
- YOLO (You only live once)
All of those statements assume that the purpose of life is to please yourself. After all, getting the approval of others is really about pleasing ourselves.
The need for approval is a test which will be repeated in a variety of ways throughout our lives.
It’s not about you or me.
We were created by God and for God.
Colossians 1:16 (Msg) For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible… everything got started in Him and finds its purpose in Him.
One major lesson in finding our approval in Christ, is understanding and accepting that our purpose for being alive is to bring glory to God. We can easily lose sight of this if we listen to the mantras of the world. Christians are called to live ‘in’ the world, not ‘like’ the world. How else will we point others to the saving grace of Jesus?
However we are living in times where many Christians are compromising and watering down the truth of God’s word in order to gain the approval of man. This is no different than a high school girl playing dress up to gain the approval of the popular kids. Only the stakes are much higher.
I respectfully ask you this question: Are you playing dress up and misrepresenting who you are in Christ, by compromising the truth in order to gain the approval of the world?
Many born again Christians have bought into the world’s lies fearing the will not be seen as ‘politically correct’ or worse, seen as ‘intolerant’. Because of this, we stay silent or worse yet, change the Word of God to meet what’s now socially acceptable. This is sin.
God’s word is absolute truth. Meaning it is true all of the time, for all generations, peoples, FOREVER.
God's word is absolute truth. Meaning it is true all of the time, for all generations, peoples– FOREVER.
— Beckie Lindsey (@BeckieLindsey_) September 7, 2015
Unfortunately, an increasing number of people, including Christians are not able to distinguish between absolute truths and relative truths, and they put their feelings and preferences above absolutes to make them more palatable.
There are such things as absolutes. There are also things that are relative.That which is true is always true. That which is relative is not necessarily always true. For example, it is always true that the number five is greater than the number three. On the other hand, one person might believe the color blue is a better color than yellow where another person may disagree.
Here’s the problem: God’s word is not subjective.
However the secular world is teaching, even screaming, that truth is relative—a simple matter of each person’s perspective. Believing this allows us to say, “What’s true for you, isn’t true for me.” This way we can follow what our hearts tell us without conviction. The truth of the Word of God tells us differently.
Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
The laws of our country may be subject to change, and recently have been, but the word of God endures forever. (1 Peter 1:25)
Dear reader, we are being tested in our need for acceptance and failing miserably. As Christians, we must hold our ground, standing on the truth of God’s word no matter what mantras society and culture are embracing.
Ephesians 4:1 (NLT) Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God
Let’s stop playing dress up in order to fit in—putting on whatever outfit that will gain us the approval of the world.