When we live in community, sometimes we have to choose.
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. ~ Galatians 1:10 ESV
If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. ~ Romans 12:18 ESV
All of us live in some kind of community. We have a circle of friends, family, or co-workers in our daily orbit. We know that relationships take commitment and intentional interaction. When we pursue relationships, they often bring out the best in us. Sometimes, however, they result in our going with the flow for our community’s approval, when to do so would result in God’s disapproval.
The Necessary Choice
The apostle Paul states something we all know—deep within our core is the desire for approval. Generally speaking, approval comes from pleasing, not displeasing, our peers. Yet, he was crystal clear–he knew instances could arise where he couldn’t twist his ethics and behavior in such a way as to simultaneously please both his God and his fellow man. He knew his actions and allegiances would raise the dissenting eyebrow of one or the other. Paul knew whomever he tried to please defined whose approval he most desired. You notice that Paul also said, If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Once again, the apostle is clear. First, we have an enormous responsibility to seek to live peacefully in our world, but against that he says, it’s not always possible.
Why? Because, for the one who serves Christ, it is impossible to live in the narrative of today’s world (or during any epoch in history) without coming to a place where you must choose whose approval you most desire. Sooner or later the gauntlet is thrown down.
When this happens, we must declare our allegiance. We must choose peace with God or peace with godlessness.