I remember reading an article/blog at the beginning of the year. I don’t remember where I found it. It was about praying and asking God for a word that would be the “theme” for your year; something in your life that needed a lot of work, that God wants to teach you about, or God was going to wreck, use, change, mold, etc. It was so long ago that I read that that I’m sure I’m doing the article zero justice of getting to the exact point of it, but, nevertheless, I remember praying and asking God for a word. I’ve had my inklings, but, I think the “theme” of my 2010 year is idols.
God is ripping me apart, exposing my innermost desires and cravings day after day, and it’s not pretty.
Just looking back at past blogs, I notice a common theme of whoring and idolatry. They are one in the same, and I am a professional at both.
After listening to a sermon by JR Vassar (check out his podcasts if you don’t live in the NYC area. If you live in the NYC area, check out his church, Apostles) three times over the course of six months, each time the sermon slicing me, I ordered a book that he mentioned in the sermon. The book is called When People are Big and God is Small: Overcoming Peer Pressure, Codependence, and the Fear of Man.
To be completely honest, it’s very difficult for me to read this book. I almost don’t want to. Why? Because it hurts. It’s agonizing. Every word cuts deeper and deeper and brings me more and more to the realization of this terrible drug I crave.
I’m an addict.
People are my drug of choice.
My Baal and my Asherah.
My name is Shara Lewis and I am a Fear of Man addict.
Everyone struggles with the “fear of man”, but, I am confessing my addiction.
I can’t say it better, so, here is an excerpt from the book:
What is it that shame-fear and rejection-fear have in common? To use a biblical image, they both indicate that people are our favorite idol. We exalt them and their perceived power about God. We worship them as ones who have God-like exposing gazes (shame-fear) or God-like ability to “fill” us with esteem, love, admiration, acceptance, respect, and other psychological desires (rejection-fear).
When we think of idols, we usually think first of Baal and other material, man-made creations. Next we might think of money. We rarely picture our spouse, our children, or a friend from school. But people are our idol of choice. They pre-date Baal, money, and power. Like all idols, people are created things, not the Creator (Rom. 1:25), and they do not deserve our worship. They are worshipped because we perceive that they have power to give us something. We think they can bless us.
I fear rejection. I desire to be “liked”. I want affirmation and praise from people.
As in all idolatry, the idol of choice soon owns us and dictates our lives. A passage in Psalms comes to mind:
“Those who make them [idols] become like them;
so do all who trust in them.”- Psalm 115:8
These idols of silver and gold are worthless and useless. They cannot save you. People cannot save me, but, I fear them the most.
The object we fear overcomes us. Although insignificant in itself, the idol becomes huge and rules us. It tells us how to think, what to feel, and how to act. It tells us what to wear, it tells us to laugh at the dirty joke, and it tells us to be frightened to death that we might have to get up in front of a group and say something. The whole strategy backfires. We never expect that using people to meet our desires leaves us enslaved to them.
It’s scary to discover how enslaved you are. My “low self-esteem”, I discovered earlier in the year as actually being quite high SELF-esteem and agonizingly low GOD-esteem. I care far too much about myself, and have little actual regard for God. I worship myself, constantly trying to make myself feel better about myself, even dragging God into the mix asking HIM to make ME feel better about ME in order for ME to worship HIM…asking God to make me beautiful because He messed up?
I am obsessed with preconceived notions on how people perceive me. I walk with my head down often. I fear singing/acting/performing in front of my peers in case they may judge me. I compare myself to every girl who walks by me. If I feel as though she is far superior in looks and talents, I feel horrible about myself, and I get a sick sense of relief if I feel that I somehow “win” the comparison.
I don’t like being stared at. I’m terrible with eye contact. I fantasize about being someone fantastically beautiful, intelligent, and fun to be around. I avoid mirrors at times, situations where I feel uncomfortable, and being around certain people, in order to keep the illusion. It’s a sick twisted game I play.
“Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.”- John 12:42-43
There were some leaders who could not ignore Jesus’ authoritative teaching and miracles, and they quietly believed in him. In other words, they believed Jesus was sent from God; he was the Messiah for they had hoped and prayed. with such a conviction, you would think these leaders would become disciples immediately and seek to persuade the people to believe. Yet it didn’t happen. Their faith quickly withered. Why? They feared confessing their faith because of the possible reactions of those in the synagogue, “for they loved praise from men more than praise from God”. They felt they needed the praise of people. They feared rejection more than they feared the Lord.
How much this dictates my life! Evangelism. I am so concerned with “offending” people or bothering people, or rejection, or what people’s reactions might be, than loving them enough to share the Gospel with them.
I don’t love people. If I say I do, I’m lying. I constantly say “I don’t mind if you go to hell”, because I sure don’t go around spreading the Gospel like wildfire.
I am more concerned about looking stupid (a fear of people) than I am about acting sinfully (fear of the Lord).
My fear of the Lord, my “God-esteem”, is so small.
Reading in the Old Testament, I’m constantly reminded of the greatness of God. The might. The power. The wrath. The mercy. The compassion. The love. The faithfulness. The goodness. The justness.
Do I stand in reverent awe of God? Am I brought to my knees at the sound of His name? The God of the Universe doesn’t move me to fear but…people do? People.
…the glory that cames from man more than the glory that comes from God…
It’s hard for me to confess sins to close friends for fear of judgement, even though it’s Biblical. I don’t want people to look down on me or think differently about me.
So many fears engulf my every day being. Too many to name in a single blog, I’m sure.
You know, people in the Old Testament loved the false prophets, but, the hated the ones sent from God speaking truth into their lives…painful truths.
I don’t feel very hated. I’m safe. I fear man. I am a people pleaser. I want to be accepted. I want to be beautiful in the eyes of man. I want to be cool.
I am not hated.
Something is wrong.
God, I repent. I repent of my addiction to the fear of man. I repent of my pride and my selfishness. I repent of my lack of love for people. I repent that I use people instead of love them. I am sorry that I don’t fear you and love you above all else. I want you to be my treasure, but, more than often you are not no matter how much I kid myself. I am enslaved to my own whorings. Break these chains. Break my bondage. Free this wayward heart. Prone to wander, God, I am. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above. Rid me of myself and my desires for people’s affections above Yours. I cannot do this alone. Holy Spirit empower me. I desperately need Your mercy and Your love.
I’m on Chapter 3. Perhaps I should have waited to write until I had finished the book. But, for some reason, I am prone to write when I am convicted. It’s weird, I know. I recommend the book, and the sermon. I ask for prayer as I seek God in this in my life. It’s definitely not going to be an overnight thing. It’ll be a lifetime thing.
There is none like you, O Lord;
you are great, and your name is great in might.
Who would not fear you, O King of the nations?
For this is your due;
for among all the wise ones of the nations
and in all their kingdoms
there is none like you.
They are both stupid and foolish;
the instruction of idols is but wood!
God almighty, El Shaddai, have mercy on me.