The wisdom of the crowd

A crowd or group can be a powerful force. It can intimidate even the bravest among us.  since the beginning of time it seems that individuals have been known to submit to the “wisdom” of the crowd. “Everybody else is doing it” or “everybody thinks this” is a persuasive reason to just go along with it.  If we think a little different or don’t do as everyone else we are considered weird, foolish, deviant or at worst psychotic.  When individuals are classified in this negative way some really awful things can start to happen. They are made fun of for sure, and they are also ostracized.  Sometimes it can lead to violence and other forms of attacks. No doubt most of  us whether consciously or not try to fit in. But what if being a little different is best for us or just the right thing to do.

In Nazi Germany many fell under the influence of the group and just did what everyone else was doing. They turned in their fellow countrymen if they were Jews and looked the other way while they were systematically stripped of their possession, taken into camps and ultimately killed. It was madness for sure, but everybody was doing it.  Sometimes the crowd is not so wise. It is a warning that screams from the pages of history that doing what everyone is  doing and thinking like everyone else, although easy, even safe for the moment, may be the wrong action to follow.

In Mathew 20 the crowd is present. The force is clear as they attempt to control the situation. Two blind men heard Jesus coming and immediately knew the right thing to do. They called for Jesus.  There is a need for Jesus’ presence in our society today. Many are hurting because of a dark episode in their past that haunts them. Some know there is more to this life  and just want to understand what it is. Some are rightly concerned about eternity. Others desperately seek the truth and what is good. All of these seekers are in need of Christ. However the crowd is screaming for them to be quiet. Today they scream that Jesus is a fable. The crowd says religion is a hoax and God is not real.  It takes courage to persist in seeking what is right for you even when it goes against the crowd.

In Matthew 20 these two blind men could not be controlled by the crowd and as scripture proclaims “…cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O lord, thou son of David.” They kept calling on Jesus and did so even more forcefully than before. Jesus, God almighty made flesh turned to these lowly blind men, and asked them what he should do. Jesus already knew. But He wanted them to proclaim their faith to an unbelieving world and they did.

They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. (Matthew 20:33)

Jesus had compassion and healed them. The lesson to learn is simple.  We can’t be guided by the wisdom of the crowd.  We have to understand what is best for us. The crowd can be wrong. Even when it takes courage we must do what is right. Finally, seeking Jesus is the right decision even when the rest say no. He will have compassion and hear your call.

Elijah against 450 Priests

It was truly a spectacle for all of Israel. Elijah had challenged the king and the god Baal. He stood alone against 450 of Baal’s priests and all the people of Israel who had already turned from God. Baal’s priests placed a bull on an altar of wood. Elijah instructed them not to set a fire but to call for fire from their god. It seemed like a small thing for a mighty god to do. Four hundred and fifty priests called upon their god, Baal. They called and called from morning until noon. But he did not answer. Perhaps he was on vacation or asleep. Perhaps Baal was busy. Elijah, the prophet of God even made fun teasing the Baal prophets. (1 kings 18:27) In any case no fire. They began to get desperate and decided to cut themselves with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out. (1 kings 18:29)

Elijah had enough and decided to end the game. He called the people of Israel close to him. He wanted to make sure they didn’t miss a thing. Elijah the prophet was not just out there having fun. He desperately wanted his people to know the true God. He built his own alter and it included a trench which he filled with water, to make the burning of the sacrifice that much harder. Elijah did not mutilate himself. No bleeding necessary. He did not scream. He was calm and made a short simple prayer.

“O LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word. 37 Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that you, O LORD, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.” (1 Kings 18:36-37)

Then without a moment wasted a powerful flame descended upon the soaked alter and consumed everything, the bull, the wood and even the water. It was all gone. Elijah got his wish, as all the people fell on their faces and proclaimed, “The LORD, he is God; the LORD, he is God.” (1 kings 18:39)

Elijah may have been only one man. But He knew he had to stand by the truth and do what was right even if it wasn’t popular. It is troubling to feel alone. We would all like to be popular and have many followers. It we would be great if all our ideas were well accepted by everyone. Life would sure be easy if we never had a disagreement. But when believing in God is not popular we have no choice but to stand alone. When everyone around us says the bible is just a fable, we must be willing to be different. Saying that Jesus is lord and Savior may not be the most acceptable belief but like Elijah we must stand by the truth. I cannot promise that we will see fire fall from Heaven, but I know that you will not be completely alone. Christ said He would be with us until the end. (Matthew 28:20) He also said “everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33)

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