Today, we’re discussing something I’m trying to work on this year: caring less about what other people think. Now, you may ask: is that actually biblical? Aren’t we supposed to care about people? Of course! When we are enslaved by fear of what people think of us, we are not imitating Jesus. Jesus loved others deeply without being blown back and forth by other people’s opinions.
I was inspired by Timothy Keller’s (very short) book “The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness,” I HIGHLY recommend this book.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about The Dixie Chicks’ song from 1998, “Wide Open Spaces.” It’s a song about the need to get away from the life you’ve always known, so you can have room to make “big mistakes.”
It seems like in our society today, that’s the opposite of what we have.
Have you felt that?
The tight, confining spaces of today’s culture: to fit into a certain box, espouse specific opinions, raise your children in a defined way. People who stray from this are blasted on social media, castigated for their intolerant dogmatism.
Perhaps we say things we don’t really think or believe because we’ll be looked down on. I know I’ve done that plenty of times.
The problem with all of this is that we simply care too much about what other people think.
Without putting too much thought into it, we do what everyone else is doing because, if everyone else is doing it, it must be the right thing…right?
When I look at the scriptures, the people who truly made an impact, who have changed the course of my life as well as the course of history itself, are the ones who did not care at all what other people think.
No, they are not selfish.
In fact, these people tend to be the most selfless because they are not concerned about themselves, either! Imagine that.
Caring Less What Others Think: Consider Jesus.
Think about Jesus. He was countercultural in a way that would make us squirm. Can you imagine going into a church building with a whip, turning over tables and chairs, yelling at people about the way they were taking advantage of God’s house? If he did that today, we’d call him an extremist, a brute, or just simply insane. To make matters worse, he repeated his offense (John 2:18, Matthew 21:17-23).
Jesus broke the rules (John 4:9, Matthew 12:11-13). He touched the untouchable (Luke 5:12-16). Jesus frequently made scandalous statements (John 6:54, Mark 2:5). And He hung out with people the religious society stayed away from (Mark 2:16).
Even his enemies accused him of not caring what others think (Mark 12:14).
This year I’ve decided I want to care less about what other people think. I don’t want to make decisions based on what everyone else is doing. I want to make decisions based on God’s Word and what HE thinks above all.
This is much easier said than done. I don’t want to look stupid in the eyes of others. I don’t want to stand out as countercultural – I’d rather fly under the radar.
It’s an everyday struggle for me to say or do what Jesus would’ve said or done. I’m afraid of being put into a box of the “cheesy Christian” or perhaps the “extreme Christian.”
I wonder, will my neighbors look at me and say, “This girl takes that Bible business way too seriously.”
Even as I’m afraid of that, I also hope it happens. I would rather they say that about me than almost anything else.
I know what’s more important than momentary discomfort: the Gospel and eternal life with Jesus.
And here’s the thing about caring less about what others think and caring more about what God thinks: its freeing. Truly, completely free.
Remember, Jesus came to give us life – and life to the full.
Because of Jesus and His death and life, I am free.
I don’t have to follow the ways of this world if I don’t want to!
We don’t have to be enslaved to others’ opinions.
I don’t have to fit in a neat little box that I’d never fit into anyway.
If your life with God doesn’t feel free – you’re either focused on the wrong things, or doing the wrong things.
So, what are ways that you feel the world trying to crush you into a neat, Christ-less box?
Are there decisions you’re making for yourself or your family based on what everyone else is doing, instead of what God is doing?
Here’s the great thing about God versus the world: when we trust in Him instead of the world, we actually have MORE room to make those “big mistakes.”
The world is quick to condemn, but God is quick to forgive.
That is the beauty of living life with God and for God.
It is a wide open space.