Do you want social acceptance?

In the age of Instagram, appearances have never been more prevalent in our culture. While social media is a great tool if used in the proper fashion, far too often we find ourselves outside of our lane when we look at it. It becomes an addiction for social acceptance.

As millennials, we tend to never be satisfied. We’re always looking to get to the next place – the next job, the next relationship. We start comparing what we’re doing to what we see others doing on social media. And as a byproduct, our resulting actions start showing that we’re social acceptance from others.

Did they like my post? Did they friend me back? So often, we want to fit in, rather than standing out. We do everything we can to be good enough in everyone’s eyes. And sometimes it’s not even a conscious decision.

There’s a little voice or nudging in the back of your head urging you to act out – post this picture, crack this joke and see if everyone laughs. At the end of the day, the million dollar question we start asking ourselves in our 20s is – who am I?

The Only Acceptance That’s Everlasting is Jesus

When we constantly seek social acceptance and validation from others, it’s never-ending.

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14)

One compliment from someone will never be enough. One like on a picture will never be enough. When we live for social acceptance of others, we’re going to have to keep going back to the well for reassurance. It doesn’t matter who it is

This is especially true of relationships. When we’re filled with insecurity, it prompts a constant need of reassurance from your partner, even if they remind you all the time that they love you.

Once we set our eyes on Jesus, everything changes. By accepting Him and drinking from His well, you begin to be filled with the Holy Spirit. You begin to realize his acceptance is all you ever need.

But what happens if we stray away from Jesus?

We lose sense of our true selves

When we live for the social acceptance of others, we start developing a low sense of self-worth and lose ourselves in the process.

Our efforts and mental energy are put into maintaining an image. We make comments that reflect what we think will please other people. Anxiety mounts, as we think about fitting in. And we try so hard to control the situation to give ourselves the peace that we are accepted.

And it might work for a moment, but then it’s ripped away and we realize one hard truth.

The person who tries to preserve his life will lose it, but the person who loses his life for me will preserve it.” (Matthew 10:39)

Scripture is saying when we try to hold onto things in our life, we’ll lose them. But when we give it all to Jesus, our lives and joy are preserved.

Anxiety is a funny thing. When we stop desiring the things of the world and the social acceptance from the people that live in it, we can live so freely.

We’re letting others be God

Many might cringe at the stigma of “false idolatry”, but it happens every day of our lives. There’s so many figures that we look up to, including celebrities, actors, actresses, actors, colleagues, friends or even partners.

Our affinity for who we perceive them to be leaves us desiring to be like them and/or seeking social acceptance from them.

Because of their status or sense of importance in our lives, we start worshiping them in a sense. This is especially relevant in college, as we start trying to develop a social circle.

I remember being a freshman, just starting out and attending a party in the second semester of school. Older, “cooler” kids were doing certain things and I got coaxed into them as a way to conform. I thought if I did them, they’d like me.

Later on, I found myself early in my career, trying to win brownie points with my boss by acting a certain way. This is true of many millennials in today’s workforce, as they over-exhaust themselves and burn out while trying to impress people above them.

At every stage of our lives, we’re presented with opportunities to start idolizing other people and it’s up to us to keep our eyes on the only One who matters.