Don't follow the crowd; follow Jesus

Jesus said “Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and there are many who follow it… because difficult is the way that leads to life.” Matthew Ch7v13, 14

Once upon a time a spider built a beautiful web in an old house. The spider kept his web clean and shiny so that flies would be attracted to it. The moment he caught a fly he would dispose of the body quickly so that other flies wouldn’t get suspicious. The story goes that one day a well educated fly came buzzing by this clean spider web. Old man spider called out, “Come in and sit. We can chat and pass the time of day.” The well educated fly looked around and then replied “No sir, I don’t see other flies in your house, and I am not going in alone!” The day drew on until by and by the fly saw, on the floor below, a large crowd of flies which appeared to be merrily dancing on a piece of brown paper. He was delighted! He was not afraid if lots of flies were doing it. Clearly there could be nothing wrong. He even recognised some of them from “fly school”. They were just as well educated as him.

As he zoomed down towards the crowd, a bee happened to pass by. The bee warned “Don’t go there lad, that brown stuff is fly paper.” The well educated fly shouted back (as flies do) “Don’t be silly nobody believes in brown fly paper any more, “that was just a myth old flies used to believe in. These flies are dancing, there is a big crowd there, and everybody’s doing it. That many flies can’t be wrong!” Failing to heed the advice of the bee, the fly died soon afterwards, glued to death on fly paper.

As humorous as this story maybe, it conveys a spiritual lesson of great importance. Just because a majority of people behave in an immoral way or just because a majority of so called educated people think that that kind of behaviour won’t bring judgement, doesn’t make it so in reality. Centuries ago, a majority of people believed that the world was flat in spite of  the Hebrew wording in Isaiah Ch 40v22 which described the world as being sphere-shaped. The fact that a majority of people believed in this error didn’t make it true. Again, in ancient times the majority of people believed that the world was held up by giant tortoises or elephants in spite of the teaching in Job Ch26v7 which described the earth as being suspended or “hanging upon nothing” in space. The fact that a majority of people ignored this didn’t make their belief correct. Indeed as some one pointed out “It is doubtful if the majority have ever been right”.

Today, more than ever, this generation says, “God is just a myth old people used to believe in” or “we are far too clever to believe in the warnings of Bible prophecy.” It disregards the teaching that there are severe consequences for disobeying the Commandments of God and a Day of Judgement to come. “Behave as you wish and live as you want” says the crowd. No wonder God warns in Proverbs Ch14v12 “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” Just because many people reject belief in God and reject the Bible doesn’t make their lack of faith correct. The majority of people on the Titanic believed the ship was unsinkable. The majority was wrong.

Genuinely searching for truth and refusing to be influenced by an unbelieving crowd is something which God calls upon us all to do. In Hebrews Ch11v6 it promises “God is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Countless individuals over the centuries have found God faithful to this promise. They refused to be put off by the numerous sceptics around them, and instead sought to find the real truth about God with all their heart. To their delight they found the One “Who is the Way the Truth and the Life”. (JohnCh14v6). The following incident is a fascinating example of just what can happen when a genuine seeker of the truth ignores the crowd.

Some years ago a Madras Indian had a remarkable experience which changed his whole life. At the age of twenty he joined the Madras worshippers of the goddess Kali and was made a devotee of Madreveran. One day a year was dedicated to this demon god and it meant that on that day this young Indian would have the honour of leading the service of worship. The young man was thrilled at this honour, as were his family. If he did well in the service it would win special favours for them all from this spirit.

The great day finally arrived and the idol was moved out to stand under a big tree near the temple. The young devotee presented offerings to the idol in the right order and he chanted the right words. He could see his parents, priests and numerous people anxiously watching to see if the spirit would accept them. Looking back he wrote “I wanted to be accepted by the idol even more than my parents wanted it. I presented each gift exactly as I had been taught. I repeated the prayers with exactly the precise incantation. I bowed low, as low as I could, repeatedly before the idol. I strained every ounce of energy in intense concentration, yearning for the ecstasy the idol spirit would give, if it entered my body to possess me. Suddenly my eyes blurred, a strange wave of excitement came over my body and I felt the spirit come in.”

The devotee sacrificed an animal, drank its blood and then began an ecstatic dance around the idol. He whirled and bowed repeatedly before the statue and the more he did so, the more ecstatic he became. He whirled for hours, forgetting everybody and everything, except for the strange wild abandoned feeling he had in his body. Finally, the demon spirit left him and he dropped to the ground exhausted. The people cheered heartily; good fortune was sure to come for the young man and his family.

The Indian continued in his idol worship and every year he faithfully celebrated his idol’s day with the special ceremonies. When ecstasy was high he was especially happy. He felt that he was very religious and everyone admired him for it.

As the years went on, however, this Indian began to seriously question things in his heart. “I was a notorious drunkard, a gambler, a thief, liar, deceiver and fighter. I began to wonder if such characteristics should exist in a religious person. I thought about it a lot but I’d never seen anyone else in our faith who behaved differently.”

Becoming increasingly unhappy about the way his religion permitted such behaviour, he read as many of his idol’s religious writings as he could, so as to find out why. One Sunday morning he was in the middle of reading when he suddenly heard a Voice in his head. It was loud and clear and said “You must not worship in this way, or read these books. You should give up your evil ways and live an honourable life.” It was not the voice of anyone he knew and it was so strong and authoritative that he put his book down immediately. He thought “If I shouldn’t read these books then what should I read?” Then he remembered a little book which someone had given him long ago. It was called The New Testament. He had put it to one side because he hated Christianity but had strangely felt unable to destroy it.

The Indian eventually found it and in his confusion opened to read it at the back instead of the front. His eyes first came upon the following words from Revelation Ch21; “He Who sat on the Throne said, ‘Look! I make all things new… write, for these words are true and faithful….but the cowardly, unbelieving, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idol worshippers and all liars will have their end in the lake of fire…” Then on the very last page he further read “I Jesus have sent My angel to you to testify of these things…come, let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires let him take of the water of life freely!” The Indian’s heart was so touched by these words of forgiveness that immediately he committed his whole heart to Christ. He wrote, “I was saved and changed, right then and there. I saw a new heaven and a new earth.”

The Indian had sought for the truth and found it. He had sincerely begun to question the immoral behaviour his religion allowed even though everyone else thought it perfectly acceptable. God honoured his quest.

Sometime ago I was sent a postcard depicting a shoal of fish swimming one way with a solitary fish swimming in the opposite direction. The words beneath read “Only dead fish go with the flow.” Quite so. Just because a majority of people known to you are behaving in an immoral way doesn’t make it right or just because a majority of your friends think that there is no God, doesn’t make it so. Don’t go with the flow, seek for the truth and you will find it because God has promised; “you will seek and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. (Jeremiah Ch29v13). Don’t follow the crowd; follow Jesus!