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Thursday, 31 January 2013

Who are you trying to impress?

I'm a bit of an introvert and yet people are really important to me, I love being a faceless person in the crowd, able to sit in a corner and observe others while remaining anonymous myself. Yet at the same time, I also find myself concerned about what people think about who I am; hoping that they find me acceptable enough to include in their circles of friends. Deeper down, I also know that I want to be recognised and praised by others, especially the people I admire; being accepted isn't enough, I'm looking to be praised too. That's why it kind of hurts when I read Jesus' question in John 5, "How can you believe if you accept praise from one another, yet make no effort to obtain the praise that comes from the only God?"  
This is an 'ouch' kind of question because I think I get it. When I'm concerned about being recognised or praised by other people, I give them control over who I am, even if it means being someone that goes against who I know God wants me to be. In order to be accepted by the people who, at least in my perspective, are more important or special than I am, I become willing to become the person I think they want me to be, even if that's not really who I am. This comes out of a lack of self esteem or even from a lack of self knowledge or a shallowness in my personality when this happens.
Then there's the selfish side of me that wants to be recognised because I know how wise I am, how important I am even if others don't see it yet. I know I deserve to be recognised and praised because I am worth it and I've worked hard and sacrificed a lot to get where I am. This side of me wrestles with humility and with quiet service, and even if God sees and knows what I've done and who I am, that's not enough, I want more. 
That gets at what Jesus is asking here. Jesus is wondering, if you're busy accepting and wrapping ourselves in the praise of people around us, do you really accept God as God in every aspect of your life, or is God is simply a small part of your life that you can pull out or put away when it suits you. It comes down, at least for me, to the question, "Who is more important to me, God or the people whose attention and praise I'm seeking?" This then leads to another really uncomfortable question, "Who really is the God/god in my heart and life" I'm always afraid that deep down I take that place, or I allow some other person to take that place away from God.
Slowly I'm learning that what I want deep down is to hear God say, "You are my beloved," and "Well done good and faithful servant," yet I keep getting distracted by the other desire to hearing others saying it too. Yet when I hear God's praise, when I read this in God's word and the Spirit gives me the feeling/knowledge that this applies to me, then I know that I'm starting to focus more on who God has created me to be and less on who you want me to be, and that's a good thing, even if it means I don't always fit in the circles I want.