Have you heard this one before? When they want to punish a thief, the Eskimos will take him before the community, and subject him to laughter. Supposedly, this action holds theft in check.
This may be apocryphal (I spent some time this morning trying to validate this information, and while I found it referenced in several places, I was not able to validate it to my satisfaction), but I believe the reason this story is told so much is because it strikes a chord within all of us.
We do not like to be laughed at. This fear drives many people.
I heard one speaker talk about our fear of laughter. He used teenagers as an example. How many times do teenagers make decisions based upon their fear of their friends laughing at them? Furthermore, how many times the adults do the same thing?
More than ever, I am reminded of what the author of Hebrews emphasizes: the voice we must listen to is God's. The audience we must play to is God.
To do so takes great courage, but it is a essential for Christlikeness—and for healthy living.