“Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” –John 12:42-43
Don’t assume for a moment that peer pressure is something new, nor is it simply something school-agers face. All of us have felt the pressure of the world demanding that we conform to the image of humanity’s elite. In Jesus’ day, the pressure was no doubt greater than it is today. Over and over throughout the gospels, people were faced with the question, “What are you going to do with Jesus?”
We must be clear that choosing to follow Christ is a choice against the nature of self, against the expectactions of the world, and against what is popular in our culture. It may be okay to join the Christian movement but to really stand for Christ will always cost us something. It will especially cost us the praise of men. The great heroes of the world such as William Carey, Adoniram Judson, and John R. Rice, who have brought so many to Jesus are all but forgotten in the secular world. No doubt these spiritual giants may have been great successes in the business world, but they chose to follow Christ with all of their energy and they paid the price for it.
We too must choose whether we’re going to live for the priase of men or for the smile of God. I don’t know about you, but I want the smile of my Father. I want to get to the gates someday and be welcomed by His open arms with the words “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of thy Lord!” For our God, it matters not the things we obtain but rather the qualities we develop. It matters not the position we earn but the lives we touch. It matters not the sights we see and the places we go but whether we are fully surrendered to follow Jesus to the ends of the earth. Whose praise do you want to live for?