Back in grade school, I would avoid confrontation like the plague. Wait, what am I saying? I still avoid confrontation like the plague. I hate it.
Recently, I’ve noticed that many people in my life are also non-confrontational like me. They recoil at the very thought of making a scene or disturbing the peace, because they’d rather stay quiet than ruffle any feathers.
And I am similar—I always prefer harmony over dissonance. We desperately don’t want to offend people because we really like being liked…and this is where the offensiveness of the gospel creates a major rub in the hearts of non-confrontational believers.
I may be non-confrontational in a large part of my being, but I’m also a straight shooter. Thus, I like to challenge myself by finding pieces of Scripture that simply make me feel uncomfortable. Here’s an example of a verse you can’t really hide from:
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? (John 5:44)
This just might be the verse that perfectly describes the condition of all humanity. The approval of others is like a drug and all of us are addicted. We can’t get enough of looking our best in the eyes of everyone around us, so if something comes along to threaten that, our natural inclination is to flee. And in the name of Christians being “non-confrontational,” most of our culture is going unreached for Jesus Christ.
Sure, we think most Americans have a basic understanding of what the bible teaches about salvation and what it means to be a Christian, but the truth is they really don’t have a clue. It’s getting to the point now that when someone tells me they’ve gone to church all of their life, I won’t even assume they have a clear definition of the word sin. Our assumption that people already understand how to have a relationship with God is foolish. And this drastic error will deteriorate the church from the inside.
Confrontation with others is inevitable. It’s got to happen if we are going to make sure that (a) the gospel gets shared and (b) the right kind of people are growing into the right kind of leaders within our church families and ministries. There’s really no way around it.
Sometimes part of me just wants to yell at myself and say, “Suck it up, loser” and press forward, but I doubt anyone would be inspired by that kind of language (myself included). Dealing with the fear of confrontation probably lies more in facing our love for the praise of men more than the praise from God (John 5:44, 12:43). Here, we really start to get at the root of the true problem. Loving the praise of people is very much an idol that replaces the love we have for God and want from God. By recognizing this stumbling block exists in our hearts, we are one step closer to digging it out so we can begin to heal.
I know it’s a cliché, but God’s opinion is really the only opinion that matters, and the sooner we realize this and live our life accordingly, the more fulfilled, content, and effective we will be as followers of Christ. People are fickle, and the constant effort it takes to please them is as tiresome as keeping up with a candy obsessed five-year-old on Halloween. Why should we live our life for the benefit of others’ approval when we know God accepts us completely in His Son? There is no need to perform for Him! A firm grasp of that truth would be revolutionary for many praise-seeking American Christians if only they could stop thinking about what others thought of them long enough to accept the truth.
This perspective changed my thought pattern and day-to-day behavior once I was finally able to believe that God was totally thrilled with me. The opinions of others became less and less of an obstacle, and I consequently became more and more effective in my faith.