Lessons from the Gospels

Group Think

groupoIt’s easy to go along with the group.

Many people spread their coats on the road. Others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The people were walking ahead of Jesus and behind him, shouting, “Praise to the Son of David! God bless the One who comes in the name of the Lord! Praise to God in heaven!”

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, all the city was filled with excitement. The people asked, “Who is this man?”

The crowd said, “This man is Jesus, the prophet from the town of Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:8-11)

It wasn’t long before the crowd’s sentiment had shifted…

Pilate wanted to let Jesus go free and told this to the crowd. But they shouted again, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

A third time Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done? I can find no reason to kill him. So I will have him punished and set him free.”

But they continued to shout, demanding that Jesus be crucified. Their yelling became so loud that Pilate decided to give them what they wanted. (Luke 23:20-24)

A joyous celebration can turn into a destructive riot fairly quickly. Of course, some of the people in the crowd were not at both events. And not everyone in the first crowd was happy to welcome Jesus into the city, just as everyone in the second crowd wasn’t shouting for his crucifixion. However, it’s no surprise that we can quite easily be swayed by the crowd we join, whether it’s for long-term relationship or a temporary event.

Groups can have positive or negative influence on us, but in either case, we need to individually know where we stand, filter the information coming in from all directions, and determine what our individual responses will be. A group is simply made up of individuals, and each individual is capable of making a decision.

When we’re connected to God through an intimate, personal relationship, we don’t need to worry about shifting standards; however, we can’t get lazy and believe what everyone around us is saying – even in the church – without personally engaging in active learning and understanding of God’s Word as well as yielding to the wisdom and conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Knowing whether you’re supposed to yell “Hosanna” or “Crucify” is a simple decision. But you’re faced with many decisions each day that require careful scrutiny. If you don’t take the time and effort to establish a firm, trusting relationship with God, you will more easily become prey to the easy path of yielding to the whims of the crowds around you.

How engaged in the thought process will you be?

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