A friend of mine was in Applebees not too long ago and got this feeling that God wanted him to stand on his chair and tell the entire restaurant that Jesus loved them, so he did. He started off by apologizing for the interruption, but he felt like there was someone within earshot of his voice that needed to know that Jesus loved them. He briefly told everyone what Jesus had done in his life and how He could do the same for them and then he sat down.
Now I want you to picture the scene. You and a couple of friends are out for dinner on a Friday night. You’re talking and laughing, people are making jokes and all of a sudden one of the guys at your table stands on his chair and in an extremely loud voice asks the entire restaurant if he can have their attention. Everyone and everything comes to a screeching halt, all you can hear are the TVs in the bar, and now the entire place is staring at your table. Your friend then proceeds to tell everyone that he is a Christian and he really felt like God wanted him to tell everyone how much Jesus loves them. He speaks for a total of two minutes and then sits back down and looks at you. Now stop…freeze that image and think about what would be going though your head at that moment. What would you do? What would you say? Would you be embarrassed? Scared? Are you mad at him? What are the first words that come out of your mouth?
If I was honest with myself I’d have to say that every one of those questions would have crossed my mind and I probably would have been really embarrassed, but why? Why is it that I care so much what people think of me, especially in a restaurant full of people that I don’t know? I’m not even the one telling them about Jesus, but I would probably be looking at the floor or better yet motioning for the check. It’s hard to admit but at certain moments of my life what other people think of me is more important then what God thinks of me, and I hate it. I want to be so in tune with the Holy Spirit and so ready to serve the Lord that no matter what He asks of me I am willing to do it.
The Apostle John writes about this problem in the Gospel of John. He is talking about a group of people that believe in Jesus, but don’t confess Him because of their need to be liked by their peers.
Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.
In Biblical times the life of a Jewish person heavily revolved around the synagogue, and to be put out of the synagogue meant that you would be ostracized by everyone. A professing faith in Jesus meant not being part of the "in" crowd. It meant people would talk about you behind your back, and you probably wouldn't be invited to all the popular parties or social events. And that scared people because that was the life they knew and the life they enjoyed. Sound familiar? Does that sound like the fear you would be feeling if your friend stood up and shared the gospel at Applebees? Now I know standing on a chair may be a little extreme and to be honest the Lord will probably never ask you to do anything like that. But it doesn't change the fact that this guy sensed the Lord leading and he responded regardless of how it made him look, and that my friend is where most of us have the biggest problem. We don't share our faith because we are scared of what other people will think of us.
So let me finish by asking you this. Would you be willing to stand on your chair if you felt the Lord was asking you to? What if you knew that God was speaking to someone in that restaurant and your words would help bring them closer to Jesus? Would you do it? What if the Lord didn't want you to stand on a chair, but He wanted you to talk to your server? Maybe He wants you to talk to the people you work with, or contact old friends from high school or college. Would you do it? Why not?
Because deep down most of us love the approval of men rather then the approval of God. We don’t want to rock the boat, or get people upset. So instead we live our lives silently. Trying our best not to offend the people we pass, in hopes that we can live at peace with a world crying out for a Savior. And in the end we'll realize that we have successfully gained the approval of men, but tip toed our way into an eternally glorious kingdom, alone. Having left our friends and coworkers behind, all because we were too scared to share our faith with a culture that spends their entire lives searching for the peace that surpasses all understanding.