Fear of Man Vs. Doctrine
One of our greatest fears is our fellow man. Fear has to do with lack of control, and if there's one thing you cannot control, at least not long term, it's peoples opinion of you.
It does feel like you can control this through nice clothes, your most interesting stories, or flattery, but it's all just an illusion. Throughout the Bible, we see that almost every time someone was thought of highly it's because God granted them favor in the eyes of others.
Yet, we forget this. Thus, meeting new people, getting asked to discuss something over lunch, or attending coffee one-on-one with someone we don't yet know seems like a threat.
We start to feel uncomfortable before we even get to the restaurant. We wonder if we seem uncomfortable. We spend the entire time constantly monitoring ourselves so we don't embarrass ourselves. We leave sure that our new friend found us insane. When, in reality, they probably thought we were delightful. After all, due to your nerves, you were on your best behavior.
First and foremost, I get it. As extroverted as I am, I have had anxiety attacks in the middle of coffees, lunches, and meet and greets. I have fallen into the trap of seeing someone's opinions as more valuable than my true identity hundreds of times.
Second, I want you to know that fear of man is, at its root, theological error. It's just plain incorrect thinking. In fact, it flies in the face of every major doctrine we as Christians believe in.
We believe in creation. We believe that men and women were created by God and in the image of God thus no one man is inherently better than the other.
We believe in the fall. We believe that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Thus, no man is inherently more innocent than the other.
We believe in Jesus who during his 3 (ish) years of ministry was no respecter of persons. Whether they were men or women, Jewish or Samaritan, rich or poor, powerful or weak, he showed them grace and truth.
We believe in the cross. We all need atonement. We all needed Christ's blood to redeem us from Satan, sin, and death.
We believe in the resurrection. We will all die. The only way any of us will rise again after our own death is faith in the first One to rise again.
We believe in heaven where there is one throne and whoever you're afraid of isn't sitting on it, it's Jesus.
We believe in the judgment, where we will give an account of our lives to just one man, Jesus. He will know our works, both good and evil, and he will remember his sacrifice and give us eternal grace rather than wrath.
That's actually where we land for today: The only person whose opinion will matter for billions and trillions of years is Jesus. He is your master, no one else. He will judge you, no one else. He went easy on us on the cross, so don't fear mere man, mere people being hard on you.
Most people, in my experience, are just as afraid of what you think of them. Most people don't have emotional time, space, and energy to harbor poor opinions of you. But even if it turns out that they're not your biggest fan, love them and move on closer to Jesus.
I think Isaiah puts it perfectly, "Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?" - Isaiah 2:22