The dominant sin of my adult life…
I learned from Brennan Manning to acknowledge that the “dominant sin of my adult life has been my cowardly refusal to think, feel, act, respond, and live from my authentic self, because of fear of rejection.” Hard to believe that a grown adult could find his life so controlled by the opinions and applause of others.
Succumbing to peer pressure is perhaps the most insidious of sins because at it’s core it is a statement about who the Father intended me to be and the confidence I have that He got it right. It is a sin to not believe the Father’s opinion of you, which by the way is He loves you without reservation and without exception.
What follows is a lengthy and blunt quote from Anthony DeMello on this subject: Look at your life and see how you have filled its emptiness with people. As a result they have a stranglehold on you. See how they control your behavior by their approval or disapproval. They hold the power to ease your loneliness with their company, to send your spirits soaring with their praise, to bring you down to the depths with their criticism and rejection. Take a look at yourself spending almost every waking moment of your day placating and pleasing people, whether they are living or dead. You live by their norms, conform to their standards, seek their company, desire their love, dread their ridicule, long for their applause, meekly submit to the guilt they lay upon you; you are terrified to go against the fashion in the way you dress or speak or act or even think. And observe how even when you control them you depend on them and are enslaved by them. People have become so much a part of your being that you cannot imagine living a life that is unaffected or uncontrolled by them.
Jesus blasted the religious leaders of the day by telling them that it was no wonder they couldn’t believe because they were so rapped up in the need to have each others approval. (John 5:44)
Until we can come to the place of embracing the loving approval of the Father as far more important and life altering then the “atta boy/girl” that some peer, parent, partner, principal, patron, pharisee or pastor might throw as a bone to a dog, we will never experience real freedom, authentic faith or the fullness of the Spirit.
That the Father knows my name, invites me to come sit in His lap and rest in His accepting and authenticating embrace, is the most liberating and faith enhancing of all spiritual realities. When I am certain of that reality it won’t matter what anyone else thinks!
The only way to enter the fullness of the Spirit is to exit the fullness of self and fullness of self is often seen in preoccupation with the approval of others. The only approval that matters is the approval of the Father.