Imagine witnessing a crime so horrific it leaves you running to the authorities in a panic, desperate for their protection. You know, deep down, that if the truth comes to light about what really happened and who was really involved the perpetrator would blame you … and you alone for being the one who ratted on them. Then, without a shadow of a doubt, you know you would be their next target. In order to escape that scenario from becoming a reality you take refuge in a witness protection program. You choose to listen to the people who tell you that you will be safe … as soon as you move out of the area, change your name, change your habits … change your very identity. Because of fear, you listen to them and you do as they say … and you gain the illusion that you are safe (at least from the original perpetrator). However, you find that you have a hard time letting go of the fear. Wherever you turn, you find yourself suspicious … and you ask yourself, “Can these people really be trusted? If I let my guard down and show them who I really am … on the inside (as well as the outside) … can I trust that they would really accept me for me?” And so you hold people at arms length … wary of gaining meaningful true friendships with people … always afraid of what they’ll think … if only they knew … Perhaps you aren’t in the witness protection program yourself but you can still relate. You can still identify with the fear of being accepted … if only the people around you knew the real you … on the inside … the part of you that you’ve been reluctant to share … because of allowing that fear to cripple you. Proverbs 29:25 The Message (MSG) declares, “The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” So, the timeless truth for today is that we need to run to our authority whenever we feel afraid … we need to run to God. We need to receive safety from other’s opinions of us (real or imagined) by resting in God’s opinion of us. We need to remind ourselves that God accepts us, approves of us, and loves us unconditionally … no matter what we look like (on the inside or on the outside). As we trust in God (who gave us the ability to have a personal relationship with Jesus … the only one who could ever make us holy, acceptable, and pleasing to God through His death on the cross) we can have confidence. We can come into agreement with God rather than with the opinions of man (or even with any negative opinion of ourselves). Because God accepts us (flaws and all) we can accept ourselves … and learn to open ourselves up around other people by making the choice to just be ourselves … by making the choice to allow others to get to know who we really are (flaws and all). We can have confidence in who we are, personally … a unique creation created by the Creator of all. When we allow ourselves to be who we really are rooted and grounded with our true identity being “in Christ” as God’s child since we’ve received His gift of salvation, we will actually be allowing others to see not only who we really are, but also who Christ really is, in us.