A woman in her dream wedding gown stood at the back of the church sanctuary, the Wedding March about to begin, and she told her father that she did not want to go through with the wedding. He did not give her the answer she expected but rather said that she should not marry this man if she had reservations about it.
“What about all the people I will be disappointing,” she asked.
The woman’s courage is amazing to me, and I have wondered what she did when she acted on her convictions about the wisdom of the marriage. Did she kiss her dad and call a cab? Did she walk down the center aisle, kiss her would-be husband and thank the audience?
There would have inevitably been some who said, “Why the nerve of her, accepting my wedding gift and then calling the whole thing off.” To swim upstream against public opinion takes courage indeed.
The disciples of Jesus were definitely people pleasers in the beginning of their discipleship with Jesus–so much so that at the crucifixion of Jesus, only one of them could be found in the crowd of Jesus’ friends. Peter, one of Jesus’ closest disciples, cursed and angrily said, “I don’t know that guy, and I’m not one of his disciples.” And he disappeared into the night.
But things changed for the apostles, and in historical accounts of their lives, many of them went to their death because of their faith. Peter the denier, is reportedly to have been crucified upside down, because he did not consider himself worthy to die like Jesus.
Little Damare, a small Sudanese boy, served as a slave and tended camels for his master. One day Damare sneaked away to attend a Christian church service. When he returned his master was waiting for him and accused him of “committing a deadly act” whereupon he took Damare and nailed his feet and knees to a board and left him to die in a field.
Damare survived the ordeal and even forgave his Master, But even greater than that was his boldness in acting on his convictions–in spite of the fact that by doing so he could even lose his life.
In every case, the bride, the apostles, and Damare, great convictions were valued above public opinion. In every case, a decision had to be made about the depth of personal conviction versus possible temporary benefits from giving into public opinion.
In the end, acting on deep personal convictions is the only way to achieve joy and fulfillment in this life. To attempt to please the crowds is like stepping in quick sand, and there is no end to the way it consumes us.