Most of us know what it is to wrestle with what others think of us. This was true long before the days of social media, and it’s especially true in this age of likes, hearts, and thumbs ups. We’re not the first people to wrestle with such fears. In the book of Ezra, the children of Israel have returned to Jerusalem after exile and have begun to rebuild the temple in order to restore their worship of God. As they rebuild, we read this verse:
They set up the altar on its foundation and offered burnt offerings for the morning and evening on it to the LORD even though they feared the surrounding peoples. Ezra 3:3, CSB
I love the sheer honesty of this verse – even though they feared the surrounding peoples. Their neighbors had no interest in seeing the Jewish people restore their worship. Nonetheless, the text says they worshipped. They pressed on regardless of their fears and anxieties. They did the right thing regardless of what others thought.
As Christians, we live in an age where we are often misunderstood and maligned. To be fair, some of that is our own doing. But, a good bit of it has to do with the fact that we are called to live very differently than the world around us. We are challenged to forsake our love for the things of this world (1 John 2:15). We are called to be light in the darkness (Philippians 2:15). We are commanded to live lives that reflect the change Jesus brings, to walk worthy of our calling in Christ (Ephesians 4:10; Colossians 1:10), and to bring glory to God in all that we say and do (1 Corinthians 10:31). Let us resolve in this new year to do just that. Let us stay connected to Jesus, who is the One who enables and empowers us to live right and to do right. Let us strive to glorify God in everything we do. May we fight through our fears and anxieties and do the right thing…do the biblical thing…do the God-honoring thing…regardless of what others may think.