John 5:41-42, 44 NLT “Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you…No wonder you can’t believe! For you gladly honor each other, but you don’t care about the honor that comes from the one who alone is God.”
In John chapter 5 we learn that the Jewish leaders have decided to try and kill Jesus (vs. 18). He has gone from an unapproved Rabbi to a threat, and he needs to be done away with. In the context of that decision, John records a teaching in which Jesus speaks of his relationship with the Father, his role as Judge, and the many ways God has born witness to the truth of Jesus the Messiah.
Speaking to the Jewish leaders, Jesus says they have multiple witnesses they should understand. But they did not, and now that the Truth stands before them, they reject him. And one reason they reject him is that they have been busy seeking the glory of other people instead of the glory, or honor, that comes from God. In other words, they have sought the approval of other people instead of seeking to live a life for the approval of God.
Make sure you see this point: Jesus rejects them because they have sought the approval of other people over the approval of God.
What a distressing truth, but what a common reality. The church in the West faces another significant schism, but this time it is not about Papal authority, Pentecost, or the nuances of ecclesiology. It is about pleasing a world that eventually seeks the demise of the church, or pleasing God who seeks her glorification. How many pastors and churches have changed the clear and consistent teaching of Scripture on things like human sexuality, the sanctity of life, racism, and the uniqueness of Christ, to falsehoods that make the outside world happy? Too many to count.
It will take courage but accommodating the vision of the world and the enemy is always the Devil’s Deal. Empty church buildings are often the evidence of making exactly that deal. Jesus is greater than the world and our enemy, even if we have trials in this world.
Seek the approval of the God who created you, loves you, and secured your salvation. Do not seek the honor of a worldly system that seeks to end you.