John 12: 36-43 (MsgB)
Jesus said all this, and then went into hiding. All these God-signs He had given them and they still didn’t get it, still wouldn’t trust Him. This proved that the prophet Isaiah was right:
God, who believed what we preached? Who recognized God’s arm, outstretched and ready to act? First they wouldn’t believe, then they couldn’t—again, just as Isaiah said: Their eyes are blinded, their hearts are hardened, so that they wouldn’t see with their eyes and perceive with their hearts, and turn to Me, God, so I could heal them.
Isaiah said these things after he got a glimpse of God’s cascading brightness that would pour through the Messiah. On the other hand, a considerable number from the ranks of the leaders did believe. But because of the Pharisees, they didn’t come out in the open with it. They were afraid of getting kicked out of the meeting place. When push came to shove they cared more for human approval than for God’s glory.
Sadly, in Jesus’ day, there were many who smelled the freshly baked Bread of Life but opted not to dine. Saw the Light of the World but chose instead to remain in darkness. Heard the Great Shepherd’s voice calling to them but chose to stay out in the fields instead. Gazed at the Gateway of Heaven but decided to take another path.
So it is today.
Many will be exposed to ‘zoe’, (the New Testament Greek word for real and eternal life that comes only from above), but choose instead to lean upon ‘psyche’ and ‘bios’, (the Greek words for earthly life) placing all our hope in human wisdom and strength alone.
John, the Gospel writer states it clearly. Unfortunately ‘when push comes to shove’, so many of us ‘care more for human approval than for God’s glory.’
As I see it, the largest challenge I’ve had in my 30-plus years of doing pastoral ministry boils down to this one truth: Human approval is a powerful magnet. It pulls at my soul. It woos my emotions. It calls my name.
And day after day, I, like every man, woman, and child on the planet, hear the sweet call of human approval, and am tempted to forsake the God who loves me more than words can say, so I might chart out a course for ‘human approval’. Forsaking the glory of my heavenly Father and the unconditional approval (agape) that comes only from remaining in His presence, I’m tempted mightily to embark on a human journey toward ‘success’ as my world defines it. You see, in earthly terms, I’m a huge success when I win the approval of others. The more people I can win over, the bigger success I will be. Thus ‘bigger is better’ because ‘bigger’ means I’ve won more approval than others I’m competing against.
You see ‘approval’ is in short supply down here on planet earth. It’s more valuable than silver or gold. In truth, ‘approval’ is the currency of our human existence. The gold standard for all life on the planet. And the more I have, the better off I’ll be. So watch out world. I’m on a pursuit for approval. And pity the fool who gets in my way.
Too bad, so many of us don’t realize the stupidity of this pursuit for human approval. As Isaiah states it, apparently we’re so stubborn; we prefer to remain blinded to God’s truth and deaf to the call of the Lord. “Come back home,” He calls out. “Disband this unending pursuit for human approval and return to Me, where ‘approval’ is a given and My glory is the gold in life.”
But alas, will you and I hear and respond? Today, we must choose. I pray we choose wisely.
My prayer: Lord, God’s Word here has pulled the covers off my ugly pursuit for human approval. It’s a hideous thing that I’ve given my heart to You, but I still listen for the wooing call of this worldly gold standard. Holy Spirit, break the bonds I have in my soul for this horrific enemy that is so determined to keep me in its’ clutches. For Your name’s sake.
My questions to ponder: What would it look like for me today to separate myself from my hot-and-heavy pursuit for human approval? What might my life look like if I chose instead to pursue the glory of God? What aspects of ‘worldly success’ need to be silenced inside me in order for me to seek first and foremost, the Kingdom of God?
So what is God speaking to you today? Are you practicing the Kingdom presence of God?