Personal identity and social influence (Matthew 22:15-18)

Are you your own person, or what people want you to be? How did Jesus navigate this struggle?

How do you balance remaining true to yourself with pleasing and influencing others? Few questions are more relevant today. It’s not a big issue in the Bible, but there was this time when Jesus overtly faced this struggle.

Matthew 22:15-18 (my translation, compare NIV)
15 Then the Pharisees put their heads together to trap him with his words. 16 They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians to say, “Teacher, we know you’re authentic, and you teach God’s way with authenticity. You don’t care what anyone thinks or look for people’s approval. 17 So, tell us what you think: should we pay tribute to Caesar or not?”
18 Aware of their evil intent, Jesus said, “Why are you testing me, you play actors?”

Just wow! Reading this, I feel like I could learn more from Jesus than from years of psychological research. Sure, Matthew has summarized a longer conversation, but how did Jesus gain such anthropological insight?

Continue reading “Personal identity and social influence (Matthew 22:15-18)”

Coping with social pressure (Matthew 11:16-19)

How do you handle the pressure people place on you to conform to their expectations? What did Jesus do?

Open Matthew 11:16-19.

You know that deep desire to be accepted, to belong, to really matter to significant people? It’s a good thing: it can keep you from heading down a destructive path towards isolation. But it can also limit you, squeezing you into a mould that prevents you from developing your strengths or hanging around with those who are on the outer.

Do you think Jesus experienced that kind of social pressure? Listen to his frustration: Continue reading “Coping with social pressure (Matthew 11:16-19)”