Forget About the Crowds

A good general rule of thumb is this: if the crowds are for something, you should be against it. Not always, but often. The crowd usually gets it wrong, and the crowd will take you in a direction you really don’t want to be going in. Just think about the crowds, the masses, who elected Hitler in Germany in the 1930s.

hitler 2It is usually the brave individual who is resisting the crowd who is to be commended. This is not just true of life in general, but of Christianity in particular. The whole thrust of the Christian faith is to go against the crowd, to stand alone if need be with a rejected Saviour.

Church history makes this quite clear, as does the Bible itself. The crowds tend to reject God, reject his messengers, and reject his truth. This should come as no surprise of course. The truth of God will always be unpopular with the bulk of men.

And no matter how well represented or packaged or delivered, the truth of God will still get people upset. Some rather clueless Christians think that if we are just really nice, and try really hard not to offend people, and seek to be real soft and sweet, the masses will positively respond to us and our message.

Umm, no. We know this is not the case. How so? Because the most loving, gracious and kind person ever to walk the face of the earth still managed to get the crowds going ballistic over him. I refer of course to Jesus. No matter how much he loved, cared and showed compassion, the crowds rejected him.

My regular reading in Scripture today came up with a very clear example of this. Consider what we find in Mark 15:6-15:

Now it was the custom at the festival to release a prisoner whom the people requested. A man called Barabbas was in prison with the insurrectionists who had committed murder in the uprising. The crowd came up and asked Pilate to do for them what he usually did. “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” asked Pilate, knowing it was out of self-interest that the chief priests had handed Jesus over to him. But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have Pilate release Barabbas instead. “What shall I do, then, with the one you call the king of the Jews?” Pilate asked them. “Crucify him!” they shouted. “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate. But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

So what did the crowds think about Jesus? “Crucify him!” And what did the leaders of the day seek to do? They wanted “to satisfy the crowd”. That is always the way it is. The crowd hates truth, and leaders seek to give the crowds what they want.

Now we expect pagan kings, rulers and power-hungry tyrants to want to keep the masses happy. The Romans placated the crowds by giving them bread and circuses. We are no different today. People in the West have all their basic needs met, and live in a culture where we have all been drugged with non-stop amusements and entertainment.

It works like a charm. But the tragic thing is, in so many churches in the West today we find exactly the same thing. We have leaders wanting to satisfy the crowds. They tell them exactly what they want to hear, instead of giving them what they need to hear.

While many of our modern churches have failed miserably to proclaim the simple biblical gospel of Jesus Christ, they have perfected the art of entertainment. Many churches today can compete with any secular entertainment business. We have spent zillions of dollars and zillions of hours learning how to be expert entertainers.

Whatever amusements the world can throw our way, we have managed to copy just about all of it. Thus today there is little difference between some secular rock concert and what takes place in many of our churches. We have decided that our main goal is to keep the masses happy and entertained.

We want to satisfy the demands of the crowd – just like Pilate did. He will one day give an account before God for his actions. But so too will our entertainment-mad, celebrity-driven church leaders who also have a deep desire to cater for just what the crowds like.

All the great men of God have known the folly and the futility of seeking to keep the crowds happy. They knew that to be popular with the masses was likely a sure sign of being unpopular with God. They decided that siding with God was always the proper choice to make.

So let me conclude with just a few quotes along these lines. Let them sink deeply into your soul:

“I would never believe that we were on the Lord’s side if all men were on our side.” Spurgeon

“We must give up the vain idea of trying to please everybody. That is impossible, and the attempt is a mere waste of time. We must be content to walk in Christ’s steps, and let the world say what it likes.” J.C. Ryle

“Why in God’s name do you expect to be accepted everywhere? How is it the world couldn’t get on with the holiest man that ever lived, and it can get on with you and me?” Leonard Ravenhill

“The desire to please may be commendable enough under certain circumstances, but when pleasing men means displeasing God it is an unqualified evil and should have no place in the Christian’s heart. To be right with God has often meant to be in trouble with men.” A.W. Tozer

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7 Replies to “Forget About the Crowds”

  1. It is sad to want to please crowds, just for the sake of having a church full of hundreds, even thousands of people ! Even Jesus paid the price of not pleasing people by telling the truth of the Gospel ! John Chap 6 v66 : people were offended and left the best christian there will ever be !
    9 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.

    60 Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?

    61 When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you?

    62 What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?

    63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

    64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.

    65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

    66 From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

    67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

    68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

    69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.

    70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?

    71 He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.

  2. Right on Sue.

    We all like to be accepted and affirmed. So it’s a difficult temptation to fight, isn’t it?

  3. I shudder when I think of the number of times I’ve been seemingly “on the wrong side” of an opinion on some worldly issue; or got an earful from someone for not condoning their lifestyle. We are all expected to conform, and not stick out like a sore thumb. It is hard, especially when you are younger and still making your way in the world, which is why I never “got anywhere” in my working-life. One’s hide, however, is rather thicker at a later age.
    It’s like all the homosexual movement now….they are a minority with a thundering great voice and a frightening unity of purpose. No wonder so many folk are being won over to “their side”. If Christians could only duplicate that unity for the purpose of standing firm for God, then we’d really be getting somewhere.

  4. How timely! This is so true but not new. I am currently reading through the Old Testament and read only two days ago, in 1 Samuel 15:24 – “Then Saul said to Samuel, ‘I have indeed transgressed the command of of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and listened to their voice.'”
    We can go back even further to Exodus when the masses demanded an idol in the form of a golden calf because of their impatience in waiting to hear from Moses and the living God.
    We need to abide by the Word of God, from the first page to the last. If the people declare otherwise, they need to be set straight.
    According to 2 Timothy 3:16 –
    “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness”…. the operative word being ‘ALL’.

  5. Hi Sue,

    I hope my words do not come across as too harsh but I also hope that I am direct enough that you capture my heart behind this. I used to be one of the biggest ‘man pleasers’ I was the ‘doer’ of the church and of my family. Always saying yes hoping that that would a/ make people like me and b/ make God happy but in the end it made me tired and miserable and empty. Then two years ago I finally really gave my life to Jesus. Please don’t take this as me saying you have not but this is my story and I hope it helps you.
    I stopped trying to please man and started pleasing God. What pleases him? A broken and contrite heart. A heart that loves him more than anything else in this world. A life that is laid down for him and only him. A life that is committed to reading his word and spending time in the prayer closet with him daily.
    When we go to that place with him then he will teach you what is word says, what matters to his heart and how to love him more than anything else, more than pleasing man.
    In this place God captures your heart and shows you how much he loves you, the price he paid for you and the relationship of intimacy that no other relationship can begin to compare to.
    We must have him so consuming us that nothing else gets a look in. From this place we can then give out to others, we can love others and we can care for others but always from a heart that loves Jesus then loves others.
    When his cross is ever before our eyes, the world fades in comparison. There is so much scripture that talks about this and as with all of scripture if God tell us to do it then he makes us more than able to do it by his Spirit

    1Th 2:4 But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.
    Col 1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
    Rom 8:8 So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. (we must walk in the Spirit to please God)
    Heb 11:6 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (to please him we must diligently seek him)

    As Christians our responsibility is not to please man but to tell them the good news of the Gospel. To really love others is to lay down our lives for them too by sharing the Gospel with them and this more often than that ends up making them hate us rather than ‘please them’
    The ways of God are very often the opposite to what the world says
    I hope this encourages you as I know how different my life is now that I no longer please man but to love God with all my heart, all my soul and all my strength which is done by his Spirit.
    Make a commitment to spend time in the word every day and to pray every day both in your language and in the Spirit and to spend time worshipping him every day and you will see your heart change. I promise you this because Gods word promises this.

    God Bless, Ella Gathercole

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