Understanding your disciple’s fear is difficult enough but it is even more challenging when he has a fear of people. A fear of people is a powerful and deceptive lens, which transforms the truth to appear as a lie and a lie as the truth.
Jesus exposed the motives of the religious leaders of his day when he observed: “Everything they do is done for men to see.” (Matthew 23:5). Religious systems are based on pleasing and impressing others, which places a fear of people in the heart of its followers. It was a fear of people that (1) blinded the Pharisees, Sadducees, Priests, and Elders from embracing the love of Jesus and accepting his deity, (2) necessitated that they discredit the miracles that were before their eyes (Luke 6:6-11) and, (3) required them to nullify or modify the scriptures (Matthew 15: 21:23-27; Luke 11:37-53; Acts 7:51-53). A fear of people in a religious context is especially disorienting because it is taught that all we are doing is for God, but in reality many things are being done to please people.
A couple of observations:
- A fear of people will cause your disciple to be apprehensive of your relationship with him since you are a “people”.
- Getting to know the religious background in which your disciple was raised will help you understand how he relates to people and any misconceptions he may have of God. (Lutheran, Methodist, Mormon, Muslim, Catholic, Non-denominational, Baptist, etc.) Just recently I visited the home church of one of my disciples which gave me new understanding into his perspective.
- Teach your disciple to love God and the Bible in such a way that he lets it mean what it says and not what he wants it to say or what others have told him it says.