Anyone who has participated in spectator sports knows how important it is to have the crowd on his or her side. That is why teams usually win games or perform their best at home than they do when they are away. Home team fans usually outnumber the visiting team fans, and the home team is more determined to win, entertain, and please their teeming fans.
The crowd brings energy to the participants and teams. The cheering, chanting, yelling, singing, and dancing by the crowd are all designed to pump up the teams to do their best, and the teams, in turn, play their best to win and please the fans.
Outside of sports, many people also try to please the crowd or people around them. Large or small, the crowd is a powerful, motivating force that brings the best and the worst in us. Unfortunately, the desire to please the crowd or people has caused many people to exhibit more bad behaviors than good.
Take, for example, King Herod. King Herod beheaded John the Baptist in part to please his dinner guests. The King had imprisoned John because he had spoken against the King for marrying Herodias, his own brother’s wife. When at his birthday banquet the daughter of Herodias danced, the King was so pleased that he swore to give the girl whatever she asked for and, at the urging of her mother, the girl asked for the head of John the Baptist. The King so ordered and John was beheaded “because of his oaths and his dinner guests (Mark 6:14-29 NIV).
On his part, Pontius Pilate sentenced Jesus to death in part to please the crowd. After examining Jesus, Pilate found that Jesus was innocent of the charges brought against him. Pilate even declared his own innocence concerning the bad judgment he was about to render by ceremonially washing his hands before the crowd. Then, to please the crowd, he condemned Jesus to death by crucifixion (Matthew 27:19-26; Mark 15:15; and Luke 23:13-25). By the way, if Pilate thought he was innocent, the Church disagrees with him. In the Traditional Version of The Apostles Creed, he is dishonorably remembered in the sixth line that Jesus “suffered under Pontius Pilate.”
We see in these examples that the powerful force of the crowd or people can influence other people to do or say the wrong things or prevent them from doing or saying the right things. That is why this law that God gave the people of Israel is appropriate today: “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd.” (Exodus 23:2 NIV).
Because of the dual roles crowds can play in our lives, the Apostle Paul advises Christians about which crowd to be mindful of and to please. As we celebrate All Saints’ Day this weekend, let’s remember our saints triumphant, and draw inspirations from them. In Hebrews 12:1-2, Paul writes: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….”
Here, Paul compares the Christian journey to running a race, like an athletic event. The “cloud of witnesses” would include the familiar men and women of faith mentioned in the Bible who have passed away and are with the Lord, as well as some of our own family members and friends who have gone to be with the Lord. Although we may not see them, they are hanging over us like a cloud. And, like a crowd in an athletic event, the “cloud of witnesses” are probably cheering, chanting, yelling, singing, dancing, and praying for us to win over Satan and his team of evil forces.
Therefore, if you lack faith, remember Abraham. If you cannot bear children, remember Sarai and Hannah. If you are afraid or weak in prayers, remember Daniel. If you need strength, remember Moses, Joshua, Samson, and David. If you lack leadership skills, remember Deborah. If you lack wisdom, remember Solomon. If you lack total surrender to God’s will, remember Mary. If you cannot practice hospitality, remember Martha. If you are persecuted, remember Paul. If you are facing death, remember Stephen. If your devotion to Christy is wavering, remember Peter. And if you are tempted to sin or lack any of the above, remember our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, “the author and perfecter of our faith.” Jesus is our cheer leader.
Those who follow the wrong crowd should note that nothing lasts forever. One day, the cheering, chanting, yelling, singing, and dancing will stop. One day, all of us will walk away from the arena, stage, field, stadium or whatever platform from which we please or enjoy the crowd, and meet our Maker. Those who seek to please the right crowd or the “cloud of witnesses” and focus in particular on Jesus may provide a better accounting of themselves to the Almighty God.
Prayer is the key. May God grant us the grace to seek Him daily through our prayers.
Dr. Daniel Gyebi, Attorney-at-Law, Texas, U.S.A., and Founder, PrayerHouse Ministry, Kumasi, Ghana.
PrayerHouse Ministry is dedicated to providing a quiet facility for Christians to pray individually by themselves without any intermediary priest, pastor or any other person. This is a free service. No money is demanded or accepted. One facility is located at Kyerekrom / Fumesua, near Building and Road Research Institute Offices, one mile off the Kumasi-Accra Road and next to a house called Grace Castle. If you are interested, please contact Agnes at 054-7498653. Another is located at Kantinkyiren, at the junction of Kantinkyiren and Konkori, off the Kumasi-Obuasi Road, branching left at Trede junction. Contact Kwadwo at 020-8768461 / 0246-989413.