There’s an expression sometimes shared among church planters: “What you do to get ‘em here, you gotta do to keep ‘em here.” In other words, if you plan to gain new members by catering to their every whim… well, you’d better get used to that. Or they’ll soon be gone.
So, is there a way to honor God without falling into the trap of being a “people pleaser?”
Let’s think about Jesus for a moment. Jesus was what people might have called ‘different.’ But Jesus was a good kind of different: He paid attention to people. He was kind to people (unless you were a hypocrite). He listened to people’s’ stories. He ate and drank with disreputable people.
But in all of this, Jesus never sacrificed what he believed in. He never lost sight of his relationship with his Father. He never forgot his mission. He spoke with and acted with, authority.
You see, Jesus loved people. But he wasn’t a people pleaser.
There’s something that was said once about the Father of Jesus: “The Lord does whatever pleases him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths.” Psalm 135:6 NIV
John Piper writes: “Whenever God acts, he acts in a way that pleases him. God is never constrained to do a thing that he despises. He is never backed into a corner where his only recourse is to do something he hates to do. He does whatever he pleases. And therefore, in some sense, he has pleasure in all that he does… God never becomes the victim of circumstance. He is never forced into a situation where he must do something in which he cannot rejoice. He is not mocked. He is not trapped or cornered or coerced.” YouVersion: ‘15 Days in the Word with John Piper’
This is so different from my experience. The times I have been free to do whatever I please, I have usually ended up not feeling very good. Or very free.
But God in His perfect freedom acts powerfully on our behalf. Because it pleases Him.
God did not spare his own Son, but gave him up freely for us all (Romans 8:32). Let us stand in awe of God our Savior and work daily to please Him alone.
By Rev. Pete Mueller
Mission Strategist, Area C