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.


God’s strategy

The mighty warrior Joshua was in the midst of a great campaign in the promise land seizing territories and completing God’s plan; however he experienced a minor setback. The city Ai defeated him. This really seemed to shake Joshua who was not used to defeat. Scripture relates that he “tore his clothes and fell to the earth on his face before the ark of the LORD until the evening”. (Joshua 7:6) Then he did what all wise men do who fear the Lord, he prayed and pleaded before God.

God provided all the wisdom Joshua would need. Not exactly what a confident and independent generation wants to hear. It wasn’t that Joshua did it his way. His wisdom came from God. God’s plan was to coax the army of Ai out of the city and with a strategically placed ambush, take the city and destroy its army. Simple enough and yet like Joshua we often do not see the solution to our challenges until we humbly present them to the Lord.

Joshua set 30,000 men behind the city and told them to wait patiently. He then led 5,000 men against the city. When the army of Ai came against them, Joshua and his men fled. Every last soldier in Ai abandoned the city to chase Joshua. The 30,000 who were waiting in ambush entered the city and torched it. Now those chasing Joshua looked back to see their city in flames. They turned and tried their best to take back the city. But now their own defenses could be used against them by the Israelite Army that occupied the city. In addition they had Joshua and his 5,000 to deal with. The Army of Ai was sandwiched between both forces and was completely destroyed.(Joshua 8:10-22)

Sometimes no matter how much success we have, life can present unexpected setbacks. We need not to give up. We should do like Joshua. Not that we should tear our clothes! Clothes can be expensive, and if made well, difficult to tear anyway. However we should present our challenges and difficulties before the Lord and trust that He will give us the wisdom to be victorious.

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Defense against false prophets

In 1956 Jim Jones began a church called “Peoples Temple Christian Church Full Gospel”. Jim Jones would go on to preach a socialist and communist message founded on his own ideas about how society should be organized. The bible had nothing to do with it. Matter fact Jim Jones once referred to the bible as a paper idol. Jim Jones would begin preaching rather odd concepts that would definitely conflict with scripture. He would go onto to say, “If you’re born in capitalist America, racist America, fascist America, then you’re born in sin. But if you’re born in socialism, you’re not born in sin.” He also taught, “those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment — socialism.” Jones also began to proclaimed himself the reincarnation of Mahatma Gandhi, Father Divine, Jesus, Gotama Buddha and Vladimir Lenin. He believed that he could be a savior to those that believed in him.

Even though many today do not consider Jim Jones to have been a legitimate Christian minister, since his teachings were in contradiction to the Bible, It did not stop many politicians from seeking his advice and support. The Democratic major of Indianapolis Charles Boswell appointed Jones director of the Human Rights Commission in 1960. In 1975 San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appointed Jones as the chairman of the San Francisco Housing Authority Commission.

In 1978 Jones moved many members of his congregation to Jonestown (named after Jim Jones) Guyana and many at the time would never imagine what would happen next. Jones explained to his people that somebody was coming to take over Jonestown and shoot babies, torture children and seniors. He convinced them that it was best to commit suicide. 900 hundred would be found dead, including 303 children.

Peter had this to say about men such as Jones, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words.” (2 Peter 2:1-3). Paul also warned that some could be “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14)

One great defense against false prophets is the study of scripture. First we must read scripture diligently. Studying it, learning it, and keeping it in our heart, that when men come with false doctrines we can recognize it as false immediately. Paul writes that “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16) David explains that the word lights his path, showing him were to go. (Psalm 119:105) The word of God gives us wisdom (2 Timothy 3:15), training and guidance so that we cannot be easily persuaded into error. We should dedicate time daily to its study in order to identify the deceivers when they come.


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Basketball and God’s Wisdom

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” Psalm 111:10

“He runs across the court passes to Johnson, he shoots from the three point line, he scores, they win, they win, and the crowd goes crazy!” Basketball is a great sport. You ever notice what a basketball player does. He runs, sometimes walks, throws the ball and dribbles. Most children can do these things. I am sure many would like to grow up to be great basketball players. In truth many are already on their way. They are learning each and every day. If they can just acquire enough wisdom for the game anything is possible.

It’s the same for Christians. We would all like to be great women and men of God. But I for one know there is no comparing Sammy (yeah that’s me) to Moses. But we all can keep growing in the Lord. Where do we begin? That’s the easy part. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Psalm 111:10)

What does it truly mean to fear the lord? It means we are aware of his greatness and his might. We recognize that he is all powerful, knows all things and is everywhere. It also means that we are ready to submit to Him and trust in Him. We will obey Him.

When God first called Moses he resisted and gave many excuses, but he feared God and ultimately knew he had no choice but to submit. He then became a mighty instrument of God. He became a great man of God. But first He had to submit.

How can we do a better job of submitting to God? If we want to play on God’s team, we must study His rule book, also known as the bible. It contains all that God desires of us, and all the promises he has made and will fulfill. Let us commit ourselves to the study of scripture so that we may please God more and grow in His wisdom. We too can become great women and men of God and that’s better than shooting a three pointer.

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