Wednesday, October 22, 2014


We are like sheep.
That's not a bad thing. It's human. (or ovine?!!:))
Crowds/numbers have an effect on us.
I haven't read the literature but I suspect that we prefer to be part of a group than on our own in many situations, especially strange or tricky situations. We certainly don't like being singled out.
Recently I caught a domestic flight with my wife. For the first time we used the passport app on my phone.
I had grave doubts about whether we would be allowed on the flight. I wanted to join the queue and check-in, in the usual way. It took a lot of persuasion from my wife to stop me from following the crowd. It did work! But, like a sheep, I didn't want to be different.
I have seen footage and read stories about the holocaust. People being herded like cattle, on and off train carriages and into the gas chambers. And sadly I have seen recent similar footage, apparently from Iraq, of mass shootings. I am very disturbed at the thought of such suffering, and loss of life.
It does makes me wonder whether, even in death, there may be some form of security in being with the crowd.
On a positive note, there is probably an added element of exhilaration at a packed concert with a heightened level of anticipation and excitement for the event which relates to the sheer numbers of like mined people. I certainly experienced a crowd related high as I waited  to start the city to surf recently. In church too, there is added security when many are present, and definitely, an augmentation of the singing occurs in a large congregation.
I will add here that when Jesus told his disciples that they would be fishers of men, he probably was talking about fishing nets more than fishing lines, implying that the catch would be plentiful, not one at a time.
Having said this I want to now make my point.
Our salvation, in Jesus, does not depend on crowd movement.
Gods word, I believe, comes to us personally and individually. We may be in a crowd of thousands, but when God speaks to us it is basically one to one. Or more theologically, triune to one.
We are not responding in our spirits to a general idea or mass heavenly advertisement. We are obeying a personal call, however that may come to us.
We are not limited to responding in a situation of mass hysteria or even genuine mass conversion, though God may come to us at such times and speak to us personally.
Like the lost sheep (singular for this situation) the good shepherd will leave the 99 to find the one.
It is great to be part of a large congregation, but God is not limited to numbers and large numbers/popularity does not prove something to be of God or not of God.
It is rare for a sheep to step out of line. But conviction will sometimes lead a person to stand out of the crowd no matter how uncomfortable that may feel.
The word of God sometimes leads us to stand out, even to suffer.
Thankfully, in that situation, we are never alone. He will never leave us or forsake us.