The Life Journal readings for today are Jeremiah 5, Jeremiah 6, and John 12.
Scripture: John 12:42-43 (NIV)
"Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise from God."
This is a mixed crowd in John 12. Within just a few paragraphs John describes one who spent a year's wage on oil to anoint Jesus' head, a group who has named him king of Israel, disciples who were trying but still didn't understand, folks who could not believe, and then a few in leadership who were too afraid to admit they believed.
Personally, I think I would almost rather belong to the crowd who admitted they just didn't believe than to the crowd who believed and were too afraid to admit they believed. This is another example of the fact that, for the most part, human love is conditional.
I've learned the importance of taking a stand in the last 13 years. I've learned that sometimes being a follower of Christ and a leader in Christ's church is tough. Following the crowd is still always a choice, but not always the best choice.
As a leader, each week I have to decide if I am going to do what makes my people happy or if I am going to do what pleases God. The blessing is that sometimes they are the same. But on the days when they aren't, I hope that I have the strength to always try to please the one who called me and loves me unconditionally.
O God, who loves me, grant me the ability to stand strong and to show my belief in you through word and deed. Forgive those moments when I am tempted to trade you for an approving nod from those around me. Amen.