Sunday, May 17, 2009

Repost: Crowded Out

Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong… do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.

                        Exodus 23.2

More! More! More!

We can’t get enough for ourselves. The moment we sink into satisfaction, we rise to look for more. Once we go all the way, we want to go farther. After we say our piece, we keep talking and say too much. We don’t use half of what we have because we’re too busy amassing twice what we need. We should demand “Better! Better! Better!” Instead, we cry “More! More! More!” We could blame this on basic greed and covetousness, but it’s not so simple. We’ve allowed marketing and media mavens to reduce us from unique individuals to demographic targets. They tell us because “smart people” like what they’re selling, we should, too. They convince us there’s no time to consider its value to us. Get it while it’s hot! They promise we can be trendsetters. The truth? We’re following along like everyone else.

Wrong Turns

Most trends are benign except for this—they lead us to be defined by what surrounds us rather than what’s in us. As kids, we construct identity by emulating the behaviors of others—“fitting in,” as they say. But how long must that take? “When I was a child,” Paul famously wrote, “I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.” (1 Corinthians 13.11) Outgrowing childish conformity demands self-knowledge and strength to go with what’s right while the crowd gets bamboozled into wrong turns. It sounds awfully rudimentary. Yet if we know this, why are we so easily convinced to follow the crowd? Isn’t it time we were “crowded out?”

Where Following Leads

By telling Israel “Don’t follow the crowd,” God addressed growing dissent and disbelief brought on by them feeling lost in the wilderness. We read of their disobedience now and regard them with ridicule and condescension. That’s because we know the whole story. They didn’t. For example, they didn’t know how Moses’s climb to Sinai’s summit would end. From their perspective, Moses had vanished and left them at a standstill. Without a leader, they fell in step with the crowd—a very bad crowd, it turned out. It’s as true for us as it was for them. Losing sight of our Leader results in a loss of personal conviction. It encourages faith in false gods like success, security, popularity, etc.

Ultimately, God says, following the crowd can lead to injustice. Being “in” creates urgency to force others “out.” Conversely, if I live by my conscience and values, I’ll fight to the end for you to live by yours. Our shared respect takes precedence over our differences. I need you; you need me. But nobody needs the crowd.

We rise above crowd mentality to do what's just and right. 

(Tomorrow: Christ in You)


Anonymous said...

Tim, we start this out so young. I can remember as a child shopping for clothes for school, and the saleslady telling my mother, this color or that type of skirt was all the "rage" and what everyone was wearing. We learn very young to fit it, not buck the system. We examine our friends Christmas "take" versus ours. By the time we are adults, we are madison avenue ready. Its a shame, and I'm not sure why it starts.

I wonder how those first Christians ever had the guts to buck the system and stand up for this new "Way". lol

Tim said...

Sherry, you're absolutely right--and I think it gets worse every year. By the time I got to Junior High it looked like the entire Partridge Family had exploded in my closet. And then by the time I got to college, I had every Lacoste shirt there was it seems. I only needed them, wanted them because I was told I was supposed to!

Right this minute I'm in Miami (South Beach), where this crowd mentality reaches surreal levels. I got out of the cab last night to check-in just as the rest of the hotel was headed out to clubs. I immediately noticed that everybody looked at me and then looked at themselves. I had on a pair of GAP jeans, a button-down shirt, and Top-Siders. I have no idea what they were looking at, and don't care what they thought, but it was just so obvious that everyone was running some sort of "IN/OUT" game in their heads.

I felt sorry for them all...

Don't know, Sherry, how the first Christians ignored the system--except a lot of them were too poor to kowtow to it. Whatever freed them from this crowd-mania, good or bad, was a blessing indeed!

Always a great joy to hear/see you! Have a great week.