There are many parents out there that have heard a very common statement from one or all of their children. The statement follows a parent’s answer of no to a question. The child, regardless of the suitability or complexity of the request, looks at the parent with an incredulous look and says, “But all the kids are doing it!” The parent responds with the generations-old comeback of, “If all the kids were jumping off a bridge, would you?” You receive the eye roll of the century followed by the child stomping off and, quite possibly, slamming a bedroom door while uttering, “You just don’t get it!” Sound familiar? I’d be willing to bet that we all have been on one or both sides of this conversation at least once in our lives. Probably more.
We read a similar account in Matthew 19:21-22 a rich young man came and wanted to know how he could enter Heaven. When Jesus told him that he must keep the commandments, he said he did. Then Jesus told him to go and sell all he had and then come follow Him. At this, the rich young man hung his head and walked away dejected. Jesus didn’t reject him. The young man walked away dejected. You can almost hear him saying, “That’s not fair! The others didn’t have to sell everything. Why is it different for me?” It really wasn’t. The key was to let go of the world and all it has to offer and to follow Jesus. I’m sure this young man followed the crowd for a while. He had heard Jesus teach and knew what He offered. He wanted what Jesus was teaching and offering. The whole crowd did. It seems that the young man was following the crowd more than Jesus. As soon as he knew the price to follow Jesus he left.
What about you? Are you following the crowd that is following Jesus? Are you going along with the motions, saying the right things at the right times, and being an all-around good person who attends a church or other gathering of believers because that’s what others are doing? Or, are you following Jesus despite the crowd? Sometimes following Jesus can be fashionable. Look at the wave of celebrities that comes and goes that purport to be following Jesus. It’s interesting how politicians are in church during campaign season, then get too busy when the campaign season is over. Following Jesus takes commitment and casting off the things of this world.
You can’t follow Jesus by following the crowd. You can only follow Jesus by following Jesus. Sometimes that means being different than everyone else, not always, but sometimes. The dangerous thing when you follow the crowd is you don’t know where you’re going. If the crowd misses a turn and goes over a cliff, guess what, you go too. If you’re following Jesus amongst the crowd, you’ll hear Him say, “Whoa, look out for that cliff, come this way.” Jesus tells us, as recorded in John 10:1-5, that His sheep know his voice and only follow it.
Who are you following, the crowd or Jesus?