Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Part of the crowd....

I felt stirred this morning about crowds, whilst watching a news report about the 2012 Olympics which has just finished here in the UK. Thousands upon thousands of people gathering together to watch different sporting events over the past two weeks cheering on their hereos and countries. Crowds aren't a modern day invention. Over history there are many times, we hear of large groups of people gathering to witness an event and the Bible speaks of several times where the crowds of people spent their time following Jesus.
 The people followed Him because they were amazed at the miracles they had seen, the authority He taught with, and the exorcism of demons.
Below are a few scriptures about crowds following Jesus:-

Mark 3:7 "Jesus withdrew with His disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed."

John 6:2  "A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick."

Matthew 7:28-29  "When Jesus had finished these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount], the crowds were astonished and overwhelmed with bewildered wonder at His teaching, For He was teaching as One Who had [and was] authority, and not as the scribes."

Jesus was very used to people being intrigued with Him. He enjoyed teaching crowds of Gods love and promises over their lives. He adored seeing people changed through their encounters with Him. Jesus just had a heart for people and his love, compassion and delight in humans was what brought Him both many "fans" and many enemies. Jesus was God in human form on earth. He knew His destiny and purpose and so knew that he was going to have a big following of haters who were constantly willing and waiting for Him to mess up in some way.
But this didn't stop Him from being Him. This didn't stop Him from fulfilling the role He was called to live.
I have thought before about how if I knew I was going to die at the age of 33, all the things I would want to cram in, places I would want to visit, people I would want to spend my days with, memories I would want to make...whilst I can't say what went through Jesus's mind, one thing I know from what the bible tells me is that despite knowing how and when he was going to die, Jesus constantly put himself out for others...whether they liked Him or not.

One particular chapter of the bible I was drawn to whilst thinking about crowds and how they responded to Jesus is John 7:12-41, where we find Jesus teaching openly at the temple before a crowd with very mixed reactions to Him:
12 There was a lot of grumbling about him among the crowds. Some argued, "He's a good man," but others said, "He's nothing but a fraud who deceives the people."13 But no one had the courage to speak favorably about him in public, for they were afraid of getting in trouble with the Jewish leaders.
14 Then, midway through the festival, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach.15 The people were surprised when they heard him. "How does he know so much when he hasn't been trained?" they asked.
16 So Jesus told them, "My message is not my own; it comes from God who sent me.17 Anyone who wants to do the will of God will know whether my teaching is from God or is merely my own.18 Those who speak for themselves want glory only for themselves, but a person who seeks to honor the one who sent him speaks truth, not lies.19 Moses gave you the law, but none of you obeys it! In fact, you are trying to kill me."20 The crowd replied, "You're demon possessed! Who's trying to kill you?"
21 Jesus replied, "I did one miracle on the Sabbath, and you were amazed.22 But you work on the Sabbath, too, when you obey Moses' law of circumcision.23 For if the correct time for circumcising your son falls on the Sabbath, you go ahead and do it so as not to break the law of Moses. So why should you be angry with me for healing a man on the Sabbath?24 Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly."25 Some of the people who lived in Jerusalem started to ask each other, "Isn't this the man they are trying to kill?26 But here he is, speaking in public, and they say nothing to him. Could our leaders possibly believe that he is the Messiah?27 But how could he be? For we know where this man comes from. When the Messiah comes, he will simply appear; no one will know where he comes from."

28 While Jesus was teaching in the Temple, he called out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I come from. But I'm not here on my own. The one who sent me is true, and you don't know him.29 But I know him because I come from him, and he sent me to you."30 Then they tried to arrest him; but no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come.
31 Many among the crowds at the Temple believed in him. "After all," they said, "would you expect the Messiah to do more miraculous signs than this
man has done?" 32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus.33 But Jesus told them, "I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me.34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going." 35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. "Where is he planning to go?" they asked. "Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands? Maybe he will even teach the Greeks!36 What does he mean when he says, 'You will search for me but not find me,' and 'You cannot go where I am going'?"37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, "Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, 'Rivers of living water will flow from his heart."
40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, "Surely this man is the Prophet we've been expecting."41 Others said, "He is the Messiah." Still others said, "But he can't be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee?

PAUSE & THINK: The crowd had such mixed thoughts and emotions that day about who Jesus was...I'm sure the doubting would have affected even the most secure mindset amongst the people there. All each person had to do was stand secure in what they were being told, as Jesus was willing them to do, regardless of what the person next to them was saying. Why do we feel the need to talk about every opinion we have? Why can't we just accept that whilst one person prefers sirloin steak, to another rump tastes so much better...

There was deep confusion amongst the people in that crowd before Jesus. Whilst the leaders at first appear secure in their knowledge, with the whisperings amongst the people around them and Jesus's words, they too start to doubt what they thought they believed.
Lets think back for a moment to the riots that happened in the UK last August. What started as a small gathering of people protesting about the fact a man they knew had been shot by police officers, soon turned into a fully fledged horror of homes and companies being torched and vandalised. People being hurt, killed even. Crowds of people looting (stealing goods), shouting, fighting and so on. I read an article in a magazine about a young girl who was imprisoned during the riots as she had been caught stealing a tv from a well known shop. Her actions were described as "out of character." Usually a nice, friendly, gentle person who had been training to be in the army...she claimed she had been drawn in by the crowds around her, and had a moment of madness - "the atmosphere had been contagious," she claimed. Her allowing herself to be influenced by the people around her, led to this young woman spending 8 months in prison and losing any hopes she had about joining the army and representing her country. How often do we scupper our chances of success or opportunity because we allow ourselves to be influenced by the people around us instead of trusting in what Jesus has already told us thousands of years ago?

Another modern day example we can look at with a more positive outcome is what Mo Farah said in an interview following his triumph in the mens 5000m race of the Olympics I mentioned at the start of this post. That the crowds cheering him on that day, helped him to find that extra burst of energy to sprint the last 100m and claim gold for the UK. If the crowd had been silent throughout the race, would he have found it so easy to have won...possibly not!
The truth is crowd psychology is a branch of social phsychology. It's so easy to be influenced OR be an influence to the people around you. It's so easy to forget your morals, beliefs and standards when your around people who don't share the same views as you. Wanting to be a part of the "IT crowd" so to speak. Seeking approval from whoever you happen to be sharing your time with at that moment. Fear of rejection, fear of being gossiped about if you don't join in with the latest gossip...wanting to know the latest gossip...wanting to be accepted by every person you encounter...wanting to be liked...wanting to be invited to every social gathering whether your friends with someone or not...wanting...wanting...wanting.
 Why are we so concerned with being a part of the crowd? Why can't we just be content with being more like Jesus and happy to be one person strong in our beliefs and purpose? No matter who or what we face?

PAUSE & THINK: As Jesus stood in front of crowds declaring to be the Messiah, sharing truth and hope to the doubters around Him, I so want to share His attitude of being secure in me...whatever people think...whichever crowd that means I "miss out" on being a part of.

Whilst crowds can be an amazing atmosphere to be a part of in many friendly settings... church... music concerts... theatre... fun family beach days... olympic stadiums to name but a few, lets be aware that like the crowd in front of Jesus that day, sometimes the people around us can confuse our knowledge...influence us in a negative way and lead us to being tempted to drop our standards and behave in a way we may not usually do so.

I guess my challenge to myself and any one reading this post is to think about the crowd your already a part of...or the crowd your desperate to push yourself in to. What do you contribute to these settings, what do you gain from them...what's your motive with being a part of them?
Our purpose - in different ways - is to be like Jesus to the people around us. In order to do this well, we must spoend time in His presence...absorbing Him...spending time listening to Him...A CROWD OF TWO...just you and Him. Just me and Him.
And whilst we must associate with people in all walks of life and circumstances, we must NEVER let our guard down with standing secure in what we know to be TRUTH, what we beleive WE are CALLED to be and do.

Lets pray!
Lord God, we thank you that you are a God who loves all people. That whether it's a large crowd, a small gathering or a lone person, you see evry heart and mind before you and love each one of us so much. We thank you that you sent your son Jesus to earth to teach your good news. That despite the trials he faced...the crowds who followed Him in life...and leading to death, that He came so that we could live life in abundance.
I do pray Lord, that you would bless each person reading this blog. Reveal to us O' God the crowds and persons you want us to be involved with. Help us to be secure in the people you have put in our lives and help us stop striving to be accepted by people, but to know our acceptance in you.
Thank you Jesus!
Amen

Be Blessed :-)





 



3 comments:

  1. Found you at {All Things New} Blog Hop! what an insightful and inspirational post! Thank you so much for sharing. I blog at Sew Encouraging (www.sewencouraging.com), would love for you to stop by. And if you're on twitter, follow me @sewencouraging.

    Blessings,
    Kimberly

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yay!! Y'all have no idea how happy my heart is when I see other women of faith connecting through my blog. So much joy!

    Thank you for linking up, Stacey! xoxo

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you girls, means so much to have feedback and encouragement. Will be linking up again VERY soon and will def visit your blog Kimberly :-)) xxxx

    ReplyDelete

I love hearing your thoughts on my writings....please share!