Imagine agreeing to do some custodial work at your church on
weeknights to earn some extra money. You are cleaning up the
pastor's study one night and as you dust the wall of bookshelves,
you stop to straighten a crooked book. To your surprise, adjusting
the book causes the entire bookcase to revolve! When the bookcase
completes its turn, you are shocked by what you see. Standing
before you in all of its glory is a gleaming golden calf, five
feet tall with a string of shimmering rubies hanging around its
The implications are staggering. Surely idol worship is not
still going on in this day and age! Yet to your horror, during the
next few weeks you discover that the entire church staff and many
others within your congregation are regularly bowing down to the
The story above is admittedly bizarre, and few people in our
society fashion golden calves. Idol worship, however, is still
alive and well. An idol can be defined as anything that steals our
devotion away from the true and living God.
Modern man bows down to a different sort of idol, an idol of
flesh and blood. He lives for man's approval rather than God's
approval, sacrificing time, energy, and money in perpetual
attempts to gain man's praise and to avoid man's scorn.
Insidiously, this "fear of man" has gripped the people in our
culture. Because our socialization process teaches us the fear of
man rather than the fear of God, the fear of man is woven into the
very fabric of our existence. We are gripped by the "fear of man"
not only when we are afraid that man will hurt, humiliate,
ridicule or reject us, but also when we yearn to look good, to
impress, to seek glory from people.
What calls us into the worship of this idol? Simply this
thought: "What do people think of me?" It doesn't matter whether
we conclude that people have bad thoughts about us or good
thoughts, whether the question is answered negatively or
The fear of man bringeth a snare. (Prov. 29:25)
The bondage doesn't come from answering the question the wrong
way; the bondage comes from entertaining the question at all. The
question itself draws us into the wrong realm: the realm of the
fear of man. If we concern ourselves with man's opinion of us
rather than with God's opinion, the fear of man has ensnared us.