Enslaved to the Opinion of Others
When his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.” Mark 3:21
Today’s passage makes me wonder how much misery my concern for the opinion of others has caused me. In my addiction, I was terrified of what everyone would think if they knew, so I hid my struggle, refusing to get help. When my destructive behavior was finally dragged into the light, I was more consumed with what everyone thought than I was about finding recovery. In my recovery, I became worried I’d be known as a religious nut. Sure, I want recovery God, but I don’t want people to think I’m a Jesus freak.
Worrying about the opinion of others has rarely led me to do what’s right. So, why do I find myself consumed by public opinion? I obsess with it because I’ve learned to find my value there. If I’m well thought of, then I find affirmation in that. That affirmation becomes its own drug, feeding the pleasure center in my brain, which has become addicted to affirmation.
Jesus was not driven by this need for affirmation from others. In today’s passage, his family thought he was losing it. He is out of his mind! They couldn’t understand his strange behavior and frankly, they didn’t like it. When asked about his family, Jesus said, Whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35). Jesus was far more interested in doing what was right than he was with pleasing those around him.
Daily, we must choose to follow Christ’s example, not finding our purpose and meaning in affirmation from others, but rather, finding our center in the father. This is hard though, because this is a learned behavior to which we are addicted. We may decide once that we want to be free of our need for the praise of people, only to find that impulse return tomorrow.
This is why we are told to take every thought captive and to daily crucify our old nature in the pursuit of God. Daily, we must make the conscious choice to find our meaning in the father instead of in the praise of man. In following others, we will find only misery and disappointment. In following God, we will find the joy, purpose, and meaning that we’ve sought all along.