Don’t Follow the Crowd

I went into our church’s crèche last week where they were teaching the story of Palm Sunday, and was shocked that it was only a week before Easter. I had never really thought about the fact that one day in Jesus’ life people were laying down carpets for him and cheering him:

And many spread their clothes on the road, and others cut down leafy branches from the trees and spread them on the road. Then those who went before and those who followed cried out, saying: “Hosanna! ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ Mark 11:8,9

And less than a week later crowds in the same city were yelling for him to be killed:

But the chief priests stirred up the crowd, so that he should rather release Barabbas to them. Pilate answered and said to them again, “What then do you want me to do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” So they cried out again, “Crucify Him!” Then Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they cried out all the more, “Crucify Him!” Mark 15:11-14
It started me thinking – how easily we can be led, how quickly we can be deceived. And what really changed? Well Jesus didn’t change, but the people were swayed by what the Jewish leaders thought.

I still remember reading ‘Lord of the Flies’, where normal school boys end up killing each other because of the circumstances they are in, stranded on an island. And how so many people in Germany became influenced by Hitler’s ideals, and followed the crowd to go along with horribly unjust crimes of hatred.

We have to be so careful that we don’t just get pulled along by the majority to do wrong. In Jesus’ time even the Jewish leaders were crying out for Him to be crucified, so it wasn’t like they were supporting the wishes of common criminals.

You shall not follow a crowd to do evil Exodus 23:2

We can also easily succumb to settling for the same pace as Christians around us. But we need to fix our eyes on Jesus, and do what He wants us to do, not fix our eyes on others and do what they are doing.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1,2
What can we do to help ourselves not be led the wrong way, or be influenced more than we should be by others? Here are some suggestions:

  • Immerse yourself in the Bible – it is the word of God, so we can get His pure thoughts, not those of others around us
  • Be careful what you read, watch and take in generally – even Christian books can pull us down if we read the wrong ones. I try to look for recommendations from Christians I respect and read those. Also reading books by or about radical Christians like Amy Carmichael and Hudson Taylor can help us keep pressing forward and not just go at the pace of those around us.
  • Find friends who will encourage you and spur you on to greater things. ‘Iron sharpens iron’ – it is such a motivator to talk with friends who inspire you!
  • Put pleasing and loving God as more important in your priorities than pleasing people. We can be put off a passionate life and even end up doing wrong because of worrying what people think. Just look at Peter who denied Jesus because he was afraid they would arrest him too. 
My dear friend Brooke has given me a great conclusion to this post! When Peter asked Jesus what would happen to John, Jesus said to Peter:
Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” John 21:22

I hope you have a wonderful Easter! I get to sing all my favourite songs 🙂

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6 Responses

  1. Greg Wudrick says:

    Yes, human nature hasn’t changed in the 2 millenia since Jesus was put to death by sinful men. I appreciate your thoughtful warning to us Christians to avoid just mindlessly following the crowd. We are constantly inundated with ideas and images in this age that are contrary to the teachings of God and need all the help we can get from the Holy Spirit and fellow Christians.

    The good news is that God is also still the same as ever and is able to keep us from stumbling and present us faultless before the presence of his glory.

  2. Bryan says:

    Fantastic and challenging post. Yes, how easily we stray with the crowd and unless grounded in the truth of God’s Word and surrounded by spiritual mentors! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Dear Rhoda, Thank you so much for this important post, and the suggestions you made. Since there are so many opinions people share throughout the world – worldwide in fact, through internet, twitter, blogs and so forth – it is now more important than ever to keep focusing on Jesus; His Word, the Bible. Thank you so much! Let us keep reminding one another to always focus on Jesus, especially when we are getting confused.
    Kind regards, Annette from the Netherlands

  4. Jenny says:

    Very interesting post – really made me think!

  5. Rhoda says:

    Greg, yes that is great that God is the same forever and we can hold on to Him!

    Annette, there are lots of opinions aren’t there, and it’s so easy to be influenced the wrong way, we definitely need to focus on Jesus 🙂

  6. Charlotte says:

    Good advice. It is never wise to follow a crowd unless you understand where that crowd is going and why and unless you agree with them. It has always amazed me too how people could be swayed so much in one week. Thank you for this good reminder.