Scriptures of the week:
Exodus 23:2(a) (NIV)
“Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
Mark 15:15 (NIV)
“Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.”
Exodus 32:1-8 (NIV)
“When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.” 2 Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” 3 So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 5 When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” 6 So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry. 7 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. 8 They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’
Shame Rx of the week:
We don’t have to follow the crowd and we don’t have to let the crowd define us, either.
Did you hear about so-and-so? . . . And on goes the invitation to drama, spurred on by the crowd. Our flesh might enjoy being “in”, but when we are “out” in the crowd’s eyes, well, it is not so fun.
Crowds can be a safe community or they can crowd out our sense of reality and lead to discouragement. Maybe even lead us away from God. It only takes one rotten apple to affect a whole bag of apples, and when a crowd of people influence one another for evil, things get messy quickly.
God gave His people laws for living that they simply could not keep. He knew their proclivity would be to follow sinful man rather than Himself – the One we were created to know and follow. Moses must have been worn out – time and again, needing to tell the people to do right, but their every inclination was to do wrong.
Then there was his spokesperson – Aaron. He, along with Moses, Nadab, Abihu and 70 of the elders all saw God. They actually ate and drank with Him, too (Exodus 24:9). And yet 40 days after this incredible experience, Aaron listened to the crowd and made them a false God. He was even religious about it – making a festival to the “LORD”. This is the danger in crowds – they can steer us away from God.
Over a thousand years later, Pilate was surrounded by a crowd. Even though he knew Jesus was innocent, he, who was supposed to lead the crowd, followed them, instead.
Everyone wants to feel like they belong. This is a strong emotion that can lead us astray if we aren’t careful. Man is fickle and when people join together in their influence, the object of their praise or ridicule has the potential of being greatly affected.
Our hearts melt within us whenever we hear that people are talking behind our back. Even if what they say has no merit, the shame behind their words reaches us because crowds are powerful. Influential. Like a tidal wave, the crowd, otherwise known as “they” can overwhelm us with judgment or praise. If we let them.
We don’t have to follow the crowd and we don’t have to let the crowd define us, either. The only shame we bear is before Christ alone, and He removed every bit of shame from us.
So how do we overcome the strong, noisy crowd? By His Word.
Propaganda from crowds does not stick when truth is not in it. Sure, it is humbling to have to be on the receiving end of shaming, but we can defuse shame’s lie with God’s truth. Get into God’s Word and see what He has to say about you. God’s Word trumps man’s.
So if there is some merit to what they are saying, suck it up. Just go ahead and admit it. We aren’t perfect, after all. It is so freeing to let go of the perfect persona. Christ alone is perfect, which is why we need Him. There is no shame in humility. Just shame in pride. But once we have admitted our shortcomings, the crowd is not our jury – God is. And He has forgiven us.
It takes God’s grace to let go of the fear of man. We have to recognize it’s hold on us to be able to let it go. And sometimes we will have to do this over and over again. That’s ok. Accept God’s grace. Really accept it. It does not matter if you don’t feel like you deserve it – that’s what grace is. It also does not matter if others don’t think you deserve it – God does.
We can ask God to help us find a healthy community that hungers to know Him. Christ did not entrust Himself to man and even one of His own disciples betrayed Him. People aren’t perfect, but when we choose to not bow down to their acceptance of us, we find an acceptance even better – God’s and our own.