Keith Wishum: Following the crowd
Published 1:59 pm Monday, January 29, 2018
“It’s just so cool!”
That’s what one young man said about why he was participating in the looting in Seattle a few years ago. You may recall the chaos that resulted when protests against the World Trade Organization got out of hand at its international meeting.
The interviewer pressed the protester further to tell what the World Trade Organization does. The rioter explained, “I really don’t care.” (Actually, I’m paraphrasing; his exact words were ones my mother would wash my mouth out for using.)
If I understand what this young man was saying, he had no idea why anybody might object to the WTO. He wasn’t rioting because he disagreed with trade policies. He was smashing windows just because others were, and it looked like fun to him.
While we might never think of breaking out store windows, we may succumb to the constant tug of the tide of what others are doing and what seems like fun at the moment.
It’s an easy thing to follow the crowd. But it’s often not a good idea. It has been said that the only time it’s safe to follow a crowd is when choosing a restaurant. Yet, we follow in many other ways.
We want to fit in, to be like everybody else. That may work fine for hemlines and hairstyles, but it can be disastrous for lifestyles. You may notice, if you’ll look carefully, that many of the people around you are not particularly satisfied and happy. Many of them don’t seem to know the way to success. Why follow a crowd which doesn’t know where it’s going?
The good news is that God didn’t leave us to wander aimlessly, following people who don’t know the way. He freely provides us with directions to take us to a better life — and to a life which lasts forever.
That may mean going against the flow. It may require that we dare to be different. “Do not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” the apostle Paul wrote (Romans 12:2). It may call for us to do some work to find out what new way of thinking he’s leading us to. But, if we will allow God to transform our thinking to match his, he has promised to reward us richly in this life and the one to come.
And that is so cool!
Keith Wishum is minister, Williams Road Church, Americus.