27 July 2018
GraceNotes – A Journey of Discovery
Scripture: John 5:41-44 (Click link for scripture in Bible Gateway)
41 “Your approval means nothing to me, 42 because I know you don’t have God’s love within you. 43 For I have come to you in my Father’s name, and you have rejected me. Yet if others come in their own name, you gladly welcome them. 44 No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God. (John 5:41–44 NLT)
I’ve read through the Gospels many times. Especially in the past decade or so, I’ve tried to read the stories with fresh eyes, reading as if I don’t know all the details and don’t know how it all turns out. I know, sounds weird, but I don’t want to fall into the “I know this stuff already” trap and miss the opportunity to see new things and think new thoughts about what I’m reading.
When I read about Jesus’ interactions with the Jewish leaders, I think, “Jesus, if you wouldn’t be so abrasive and confrontational with these guys, they might not dislike you so much! You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, you know!” But I think one of the reasons I think that way and Jesus doesn’t is just what he’s talking about here. “Your approval means nothing to me!”
I often catch myself thinking about the approval of other people. I want to be liked. I know if I think and talk and act in accordance with established norms of my cultural group (In my case, American church culture, Over-65’s, small-town western USA, you know the type!), I’ll be more likely to have the approval my ego desires. Jesus had this one just the way it ought to be. He didn’t care about his opponents’ approval, in fact, he didn’t care much about his friends and supporters approval. He cared about his Father’s approval—God’s approval.
It’s a lesson to me, friends! If I only think what others are thinking, if I only see what others are seeing, and if I only say what others are saying, I may have the approval my ego desires, but miss the approval that matters most. And instead of being an influence, I’ll just be taking up space. How about you? Does the desire for approval ever put you in a box? Let’s seek the approval that comes from God alone!
Father, My heart wants to do what I do for your approval alone. My ego often wants something quite different. Help my friends and me as we commit to seek your approval alone, to “Play for an audience of One.” Amen.