I liked to be liked. I like it a lot! And, if I’m not careful, being liked can become an idol.
As a pastor, I sometimes find my “like-tank” running empty. My sermons don’t have a Facebook like button attached. Church people are often more inclined to let me know what they don’t like than they are about about what they do. And let’s face it…making church changes rarely brings cheers.
While wanting to be liked is certainly a part of being human, it can quickly progress from a desire to a perceived need (see Ken Sande’s “Progression of an Idol“). If I am not careful, wanting to be liked…or feeling as if I’m NOT liked…will impact my mood and how I treat those around me. When I begin to look to men to fulfill my “like-need,” I’ve just entered into idol worship.
Let me explain:
We were created by God to find our satisfaction in Him and in Him ALONE. The truth is, nothing else can really every quench the deepest longings of my soul. The applause and approval of man is fleeting and it will always leave us longing for more. As I grow in my walk with God, I become more and more aware of my heart’s longings and how I am looking to have them satisfied in other things. Spiritual maturity comes when I abandon the substitutes of the world that replace God and find my ultimate joy in Him! David showed his close walk with God when he said, “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1).
The affirmation from man is a replacement for the acceptance of God. And if I am satisfied with man’s approval…or dissatisfied when I don’t get it…then I am worshipping an idol.
Paul teaches us that when we live for man’s approval, we have become slaves to those men and we are no longer slaves of Christ!
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.
In our social media rich culture, the opportunities to get “liked” by man are plentiful. I have found that Facebook (and other social media sites) can be a very easy altar for others to pay tribute to my like-idol. I hate to admit that at some of the lower points in my ministry, I have found myself checking Facebook often hoping for some affirmation. “Did anyone like my status? What can I post to get some positive feedback? Please…someone LIKE me already!!”
So you don’t do Facebook? or Twitter? of FourSquare? or…ok…it’s a long list!
There are MANY ways we look for man’s approval. Sometimes we fish for compliments; “Did you like the song I sang at church today?” Sometmes we drop names so others think highly of us, “Just the other day I was telling John Piper.” Really, there are many, many ways this sin manifests itself in our lives.
Principles to Remember
So where’s the hope? When I am feeling the deep need for approval, I need go no further than the cross! It was there that God showed his ultimate approval and affirmation by offering up His Son on the cross for my sin! And now, I live approved by Him! I am “liked” by the most powerful being in the universe! This is because His approval is not based on my performance. He sees me through the death of Jesus Christ. His righteousness is now my righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21)! When God said “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” that was the ultimate approval. And now that approval is passed on to me. What a glorious truth! What joy the cross brings!
Practices to Remind
Remembering the gospel will set a foundation for my heart to love God because of the cross. But now I want to walk worthy (Eph. 4:1). How do we help ourselves and others fight the Facebook fear-of-man temptation?
In his book “A Hunger for God,” John Piper points out that fasting is not just about food.
“The issue is not food per se. The issue is anything and every- thing that is, or can be, a substitute for God.” – John Piper, A Hunger for God
When we are finding our satisfaction in other things, fasting becomes a way to re-orient our hearts back to him. If my comfort comes from food, I need to fast from food for a time. When I am tempted to find comfort from a good lunch I will remember, “That’s right…I’m fasting today. I need to go to God for that comfort.”
So maybe we need to fast from Facebook (or whatever activity that we use to find approval). Put it off…and put on finding your like-satisfaction in Him. Every time you feel the need to check how many people liked your status, pray instead. Thank God that you have His approval through Jesus.
Make a record of every time your check Facebook. Answer a couple of heart exposing questions; “What did I hope to find?”; “How can I find what I’m looking for in God?”
Write Gal. 1:10 on a 3X5 card and place it beside your computer. Memorize it…and look to it when you begin to feel the “like-need!”
Nothing can outside of God can satisfy our souls! In God, we have ultimate love and approval. Through Jesus, we can overcome our need for man’s approval and we can find more joy in the CROSS than in a Like-Button!
Join the Conversation
Where do you look for approval? How have you found joy in God’s acceptance of you through the cross? What verses remind you to find your approval in Him, not man?