Should I obey God or disobey God so that people will approve of me? Well... when you put it like that it is a no-brainer. However we seldom if ever process things that way especially in the moment of decision. It's not like I have a desire to disobey God and I'm not overly concerned with what most people think about me. But then again, there are times...
Several years ago while at work, the Lord gave me a simple instruction to obey. I was standing in the middle of our shop with lots of people around, talking to a coworker about his foot injury. The Lord said "I want you to pray for his foot." I told the Lord I would and then began thinking of a time, perhaps lunch hour, where we could get by ourselves and I could pray for him. The Lord said "Do it now." The Lord then showed me a picture (in my imagination) of me kneeling down in the middle of the shop in front of everyone and praying for the man. The thought of being labeled a weirdo ran through my mind, but then again this group already thought I was a weirdo. (because of the extra large family bible on my workbench and the worship music I played all the time) I knelt down and prayed and the Lord healed him. Fear of the group was not much of an issue because I was already semi-rejected by them. No, they were not nasty to me but I was not one of them.
A couple of years later I had another situation come up where I had a similar decision to make. I heard through "the grapevine" there was a famous psychic who was saying good things about me and my teaching. He was placing his stamp of approval as it were upon me. I really did not like the idea of that at all. I thought "what do I do with this?" The things I talk about already challenge people about whether it's God, and now I'm getting endorsements from a psychic? You who are reading this probably already know this, but the majority of churches reject completely the things I talk about. Some churches are looking but skeptical, and others (a few) are already walking in the supernatural things of God. Unfortunately I began to think about my "credibility" with the church folks.
What made things even worse was the fact that the Lord told me one day "I want you to call him and tell him thank you for the kindness he has shown you." First off, I even questioned if it was the Lord's voice. Why in the world would the Lord tell me that?! But the thing is, I know His voice and it was Him. Did I obey? No, I reasoned. I reasoned every possible reason why I should not do that. "Lord I don't want to be connected to some guy who is from the other side!" It wouldn't be good for my testimony. I argued with the Lord every time He told me and guess what? He stopped asking me to do it. What was my real resistance? Fear of man. Fear of rejection from people who don't even know me. It is a sad time in my life looking back. Why?
A couple years later, after I had grown up a bit, I was asking the Lord about it (which is what I should have done to start with) and He sent me the answer. The man reaching out to me two years earlier was led of the Lord. He was going through a time in his life where he needed a miracle. He needed the power of God displayed and the Lord was answering his prayer. He did not need those who already surrounded him, he needed someone who could introduce him to the one true God who could give him his miracle. I found out the whole story later and the very sad truth is that he never did receive the miracle he needed.
I realized that I had been more afraid of the church people than the world's people. What I have come to see with more clarity is that you and I, especially those who really believe, are going to have to make these kinds of choices all the time. The religious hated Jesus, but we want them to love and accept us? It's not going to happen. The Lord has taught me through numerous examples I could share, that when He speaks, we must just obey. We can't reason and try to understand first or ask for a hundred confirmations. If we know it is the Lord, we must just obey.
Many times it's a matter of someone's salvation or healing or life and death. We must be free of fear in all it's forms. Love, perfect love, will act to save regardless of what the crowd says.
Stand apart from the crowd.