Who’s Holding You Back in Your Faith

Dan Lovaglia, Camp Pastor, Camp Paradise | March 27, 2023

Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. 

John 12:42-43

Baptism. How do you respond to that word? (I know, John 12 isn’t about this, but hear me out before you move on with your day.)

Reading the word “baptism” on paper isn’t very complicated. But it takes on a whole new meaning when people are involved. God’s Word is clear: if you choose to trust and follow Jesus Christ, get baptized. Yet, for many Christians, it’s hard to go public with their faith in this way. There are many reasons for this, but one sticks out, and today’s passage tugs at it.

I’ve talked with countless well-meaning believers that won’t get baptized as adults. Why not? Their parents had them baptized as children in another church denomination. They feel another baptism dishonors their family and the church they grew up in. I get it, but it sounds a lot like John 9:42: “…[T]hey would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out.”

When it comes to family and faith, the pressure for human approval has such a strong pull. It’s natural to struggle between people’s praise and God’s praise. In John 3, Nicodemus approaches Jesus at night because he wasn’t ready to go public about recognizing the Messiah. In John 9, Jesus heals a blind man, but then his parents withhold details to avoid getting kicked out of the synagogue. Keep reading the New Testament and you’ll find plenty of examples where people choose to go public about faith or keep it private.

The question for us today is simple but hard to answer: “Who’s holding you back in your faith?” Who do you want approval from more than approval from God? How do they influence you to be less public and more private about your faith?

If you’re a follower of Jesus, I pray this question challenges you. If you’re not a follower of Jesus, my prayer is the same. And, full disclosure, this isn’t an easy question for me to answer either. But I am grateful if today’s passage gets us all thinking about what it will take to seek God’s approval above anyone else.

Next Steps

  • Talk with a friend about today’s question: “Who’s holding you back in your faith?” I think you’ll be surprised by what each of you has to say.
  • If you’ve not been baptized, click here to learn more and take this step.