“I Don’t Fit In—What Can I Do? (Galatians 1:10)
Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in because of your Christian beliefs? I have felt this way many times in my life. In college I lived in a fraternity house where the chief past time was drinking. As a non-drinker, I didn’t fit in with my peers. I spent more than 40 years as a college professor and administrator in an environment where secular humanism was the accepted “religion.” Consequently, as a Christian, I often felt like a fish out of water. In a world that is increasingly secular, Christians often feel this way.
What should you do when your Christianity leaves you feeling out of place among co-workers, neighbors, relatives, or even family members? When you feel out of place among your peers because of your Christian beliefs, seek the approval of God rather than the world. Rather than trying to fit in with the world, try to fit in with God. This is the message in Galatians 1:10 where we read: “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
Having given this advice, let me hasten to add that seeking the approval of God rather than the world may turn out to be a difficult challenge. Worldly approval, like most temptations, can be powerfully appealing. It is like the aroma of coffee and donuts wafting from a bakery early in the morning or the allure of an ice-cold drink on a swelteringly summer day. It appeals to something deep inside of us.
Worldly approval tugs persistently on our human frailties. Among other things, it appeals to our fears, ambition, ego, need to fit in, and desire for validation. These human desires are powerful, but trying to satisfy them instead of pleasing God inevitably leads to frustration, disappointment, and disillusionment. Fitting in with God will do more for you in the long run than trying to fit in with peers who reject Him.
You fit in with God by honoring Him in everything you do, but what does it mean to honor God? How do Christians who want to fit in with God instead of their peers go about honoring Him every day? What follows are specific things you can do to honor God and, in turn, fit in with Him:
Acknowledge God as the author of your blessings
Heed the Greatest Commandment in all aspects of your life
Show 0thers Christian love as described in 1 Corinthians 13
Fair warning: seeking to please God rather than the world will not be easy. You can do well today and backslide tomorrow. This happens to all of us. Because of our fallen nature, we will always feel the lure of worldly approval. When you find yourself wanting to please your peers instead of God, don’t despair. You are going to be tempted, but remember temptation is not in and of itself sin. Giving in to temptation is sin, but being tempted isn’t. Therefore, when you feel tempted to seek worldly recognition, approval, and validation, do these three things:
Pray for God’s help
Seek guidance in Scripture
Seek the wise counsel of fellow believers
When you struggle with wanting to please God instead of the world, pray, consult Scripture, and seek the wise counsel of fellow believers. Do these things and remember who holds the keys to a better life on earth and eternal life thereafter. It’s God not your peers.
Dr. Goetsch is the author of Christian Women on the Job: Excelling at Work without Compromising Your Faith, Fidelis Books, an imprint of Post Hill Press and Christians on the Job: Winning at Work Without Compromising Your Faith, Salem Books, an imprint of Regnery Publishing, 2019: www.david-goetsch.com