Why do we need others to live the Christian life?

Growing up I attended a small private school in Savannah, GA. When I was in fifth grade, we were given the option of taking choir. I say we were given the option of taking this class because you had to miss recess in order to attend. Since recess is kind of a big deal for a fifth-grader, they gave you the option. At first, I wasn’t going to take the class. Recess was way more important to me than singing in the choir. But all my friends were signing up. Recess is only fun if your friends are there, so I decided to sign up as well.

My stint in the choir didn’t last all that long. I wasn’t doing well in one of my other subjects, I can’t remember which one it was, but I wasn’t doing well, so I had to go to tutoring. To this day I distinctly remember the comment the choir director made when he heard I wouldn’t be coming back. He said, “Oh, that’s fine. It’s probably for the best anyways.” While hearing him say that hurt my ego a little, it was true. It was for the best because I was always out of step with the rest of the class. I’m tone-deaf. I can’t carry a tune to save my life.

While it hurt my ego to hear that from my choir teacher, I’m glad I learned early that I was out of step when it came to music, or else I might have ended up on American Idol or something like that as one of the blooper reels. I’m glad someone was honest with me.

We need people who are willing to be honest with us.

Not just when it comes to singing but when it comes to how we are living life. We all need others who are willing to come alongside us and speak the truth in love. If we don’t, we will end up going through life thinking we are great at everything. That is not only dangerous when it comes to our talents, but also the Christian life.

We must have others to whom we are accountable.

We must have others who are willing to speak the truth of God’s Word into our life. If we don’t, we won’t grow. Even worse, we might end up following a false teacher or living contrary to the gospel.

When we live contrary to the gospel and God’s Word, we not only hurt ourselves, but we hurt others as well.

It might not be our first instinct to believe our actions harm the community in which we run because we are conditioned by our culture to think of ourselves and ourselves alone. We are very individualistic in our outlook. While that is how our culture has conditioned us to think, that is not reality. Our actions affect the community in which we live, work, and play. That not only applies to other church members, but it also applies to those we are attempting to reach with the gospel.

If we are living out of step with the gospel, and we don’t have anyone who is willing to tell us we are out of step with the gospel, we are in trouble.

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

You might be thinking: “Why shouldn’t I seek to be a people pleaser, especially in this day and age? I could lose my job, my livelihood, my status. I could get canceled and everything I worked so hard for is gone.” So why?

Why Shouldn’t We Be a People Pleaser?

(1) Seeking the approval of man is a never-ending cycle.

You all know that trends, opinions, and ideas change, and they change often. What pleases someone one day isn’t necessarily what’s going to please them the next. Seeking the approval of man traps you in a never-ending cycle of always having to figure out what’s going to please someone and then convince them that you are worthy of their attention, praise, and affection. That never-ending cycle is a grind that will eventually beat you down, leaving you broken and depressed. I believe this is why so many celebrities end up abusing drugs or alcohol, or even committing suicide. The constant pressure of having to maintain a certain status is just too much.

(2) Seeking the approval of man means we’re going to have to continually change our message.

As you all know, times change, culture changes, and along with those things, what man approves of changes. If our only goal is to win man’s approval, our message is going to end up changing along with the times and culture. The liberal church is a good example. If you look back at their history, you would see that as the culture changed, their message has changed along with it. So much so that they are a mirror of the world instead of being a light to it.

God doesn’t call us to be a church with an ever-changing message. He doesn’t want us to be progressive. Instead, He wants us to remain faithful. In order to do that, our desire has to be to please Him instead of our fellow man.

(3) Seeking the approval of man means we will often be forced to act in ways that are contrary to God’s commands and the gospel.

Peter is a prime example. As soon as the circumcision party showed up in Antioch he withdrew from the Gentiles so that they wouldn’t think any less of him. Obviously, that doesn’t coincide with the gospel’s message that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile. Or with God’s command to love others as ourselves. But Peter wasn’t concerned with that. He wasn’t concerned with following God’s commands or promoting gospel unity. Instead, he was concerned with pleasing the circumcision party.

If our only goal is to please man, then we are going to find ourselves acting like Peter. We are going to have to choose between following God and upholding gospel unity, and doing what will win us favor with others. That’s a problem. A big problem. Because God, His commands, and His gospel should be the only thing we care about promoting. He is our Creator, Sustainer, and Savior. Pleasing Him and doing what brings Him glory should be our only concern. But the only way we are going to do that is if we are Christ pleasers instead of people pleasers.

(4) Seeking the approval of man means we aren’t living in the freedom Jesus provides.

In Christ, we are freed from having to continually seek man’s approval. That’s because in Christ we have the only approval that matters — God’s approval. That approval will never change because it’s not dependent on our work. Instead, it’s dependent on Jesus’ work on our behalf.

When we realize that we are free in Christ, we will be free from the grind of having to please others. We won’t have to deal with the anxiety that’s caused by wondering if we have done enough. Nor will have to deal with the inner turmoil of whether or not we sold out to the culture. Instead, we will be able to live joyful lives, knowing that we have the only acceptance that matters — God’s.

God’s approval is the only approval that should matter. Instead of seeking the ever-changing approval of man, we need to rest in God’s unchanging approval that’s found in Christ alone.

If we hope to be Christ pleasers instead of people-pleasers, we need others.

Knowing others have sought to and are seeking to please Christ should help us to do the same. We are not alone in our journey to living for Christ. Nor is it just a 21st-century activity. From the very beginning, Christ-followers have sought to be Christ pleasers instead of people pleasers.

As self-professed Christ-followers, we should do the same — we should be Christ pleasers, not people pleasers. One way we can fight the tendency to be a people pleaser is to exist in a community with other Christ Pleasers. Not only do we need the example of others in history, like Paul, but we also need the example of others today. We need others to look to and others to encourage us on a daily basis. In order for that to happen, we have to be in a community with others.

Our need for community is why you not only need to attend church, but you should join a church and then plug into a small group. If we hope to be Christ pleasers instead of people pleasers, especially in the hostile world in which we find ourselves, we need others.

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Heb 10:24-25)

There are no Lone Ranger Christians. We cannot live the Christian life on our own. We need one another. If we believe we can live the Christian life alone, we are sadly mistaken. Jesus and our Bible is not all we need. We need one another.

Not only do we need one another, but we need others who will be honest with us. We need brothers and sisters in Christ who will speak the truth in love into our life (Eph 4). If all we surround ourselves with are people who refuse to stick their neck out to tell us the truth, we are no better off than living the Christian life on our own.

Prioritize community and seek out those who will hold you accountable.

In saying that we should prioritize community, I’m not saying it will be easy. Living in community with others is difficult. It is even difficult to prioritize the time to be with one another. We must be intentional and purposeful. Community doesn’t just happen it is planned and fought for.

You are a theologian, be a good one.

“But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

(Heb 5:14)

You are a theologian. You may not believe yourself to be a theologian but you are one. You have an opinion about God. You believe He does and doesn’t operate in one way or another. You even tell others what you believe about God from time to time. Your belief causes you to act in a certain way. You are a theologian. 

You may not be a very good theologian, but you are one. As Christians, we should want to be good theologians. Our understanding of God should be accurate. The only way we will have an accurate understanding of God is if we are in a constant state of growth. 

When we come to faith in Christ, we have ideas about God. But those ideas need to be adjusted and shaped. Our wrong thoughts about God need to be replaced with right thoughts about Him. As well as what we don’t know needs to be sured up. 

Sadly, many Christians don’t grow in their knowledge of God. They are happy to exist with the knowledge they already possessed. Or they are happy to remain in an immature state. But remaining immature like little babes is not a mark of a good theologian. It doesn’t benefit us nor does it benefit those with whom we live in community. In the previous verse, the writer chastises those who are immature when he says, 

“for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child.

(Heb 5:13)

Those who are immature are unskilled. They are not able to handle the Word of God rightly, which leaves them vulnerable, unable to “distinguish good from evil.” (Heb 5:14b) and unable to accurately communicate who God is, and how they and others should live in light of who God is. 

Immaturity in the faith is not a badge of honor. It opens you and others up for harm. You are a theologian, be a good one.

Sin is deceitful. We need one another.

“But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13)

We need one another. Not just to help with physical matters, but to help us grow spiritually. Sin can be deceitful. It can trick us into believing that our thoughts and actions are right and good when in reality they are sinful. We need others who are willing to speak into our life to point out our wrong thinking and wrong doing.

Spiritual growth occurs in community. If we are not in community with other believers, we hinder our own spiritual growth. As believers we should want to grow to be more like Christ. He is the One who has provided us with salvation after all. He is the One who provides us with rest.

If you are not prioritizing Christian community, you need to make it a point to do so. You need to plug in with a solid Bible believing, gospel-centered church in your area and begin fostering community.

Sin is deceitful. We need one another.