Tough Crowd of Stupids

And He was casting out a demon, and it was mute; when the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke; and the crowds were amazed.  But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons.”  Others, to test Him, were demanding of Him a sign from heaven.  (Luke 11:14-16 NASB)

We’ve all been there.  We go to church, and we either hear obliquely or directly a complaint followed by a challenge or threat.  It could be about the preacher, the music, the pews, chairs, children’s leader, teachers, floors, windows, Bibles, or whatever.  Somethings wrong, and if it doesn’t change I’m going to do something really mean to some unsuspecting person there to either lead worship or worship.

It’s Christian terrorism in the church.  But it’s not evil it’s justified by whatever is wrong.  In fact I’m in the aftermath, the words, “It wasn’t my fault, if they had (or hadn’t)…” will most likely make up the response of the accused.  Let me help you out here.  This is stupid.

If you’re offended by “stupid”, well…you, if you hadn’t…no I’m not going there.  The word fits because it is some what offensive.  Such activity should be considered more offensive, but it’s not.

Of course, it’s not new either.  I have had several people over the years, even some in school, tell me they want to be part of a church like the early church.  People who say that usually mean the church described in Acts 4.  But what they end up with is the church described in the rest of the Christian Scriptures, especially the ones Paul writes to.

But even before Paul wrote to his first church, before Paul was converted to following Jesus, this same Jesus had a crowd of people with loud stupids.  Not the whole crowd, but some were down right silly.  For instance…

Jesus casts a demon causing a man to be mute out of him, and the man finally speaks.  The crowd’s response? Jesus is either doing this by the prince of those He’s casting out (brilliant, you have to admit, of course He is!), or, even more sensibly, the exorcism isn’t really enough, would You please show a sign from heaven to prove Your validity.

Yes, folks, out comes a demon cast away to who knows where (until you read verses 24 through 26), but still, it really doesn’t mean this Jesus fellow is from God.  Of course not.  What’s even more ironic is that those most caustic in their vociferous condemnation of these people will then behave this way in church.  Wait, what?

Oh yes, things that deviate from my “comfort zone” in church worship (Worship of the Almighty God, the Holy Spirit, and the Son, our Creator and Savior) should be condemned for the “sin” they are, because I couldn’t get the sleep, the peace, the tranquility I need from such practice of worship.

There should be no use of passages of Scripture in worship that require me to change my ways to conform to someone else, you know, like God.  What is that about?  There should be no loud music!  There should be no soft music!  We must have pews!  What is a worship center without chairs we can move around?

My church has a lead worshiper who plays guitar barefoot and has tattoos.  Oh the ignominy!  Oh the shamelessness!  Oh wait, aren’t those both qualities of Jesus?  Wasn’t He publicly humiliated, yet felt no shame?  Seriously, how can we be so STUPID?  The very accusations we level at those leading us through this life with our Savior are the very things that prove their validity as leaders!

Okay, let me step down from my soap box for a second.  When we, as affirmed followers of Jesus, behave in ways contrary to the things He taught, and consider ourselves justified in such behavior and attitudes; I believe we have stopped following Jesus and have begun to follow someone, who from behind, merely appears to be Jesus.  The robed creature before such followers will be shown to be the Satan, not the Savior.

Back to the soap box!  You can tell this by the results of such behavior.  The church, instead of enjoying unity of the Holy Spirit, is fractured by the hate and lies of the enemy.  That’s the fruit of such deception.  In Mark 3:28, 29 this same event is described, and Jesus uses it to point to what has become called the “unpardonable sin”.  This is not to be taken lightly.  This is serious. The fruit of such behavior and attitudes of a crowd seeking to denounce their leaders is demonstrated to be divisive, abusive, hurtful, and selfish.  When we see this, and even feel this, we should take it very seriously.  Such feelings are not from God!

Let’s not be the “stupids” in the crowd.

So what do you learn from the crowd’s reaction to Jesus’ miracle?



What Do People Think?

And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?” They answered and said, “John the Baptist, and others say Elijah; but others, that one of the prophets of old has risen again.” And He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” And Peter answered and said, “The Christ of God.” But He warned them and instructed them not to tell this to anyone, saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day.” (Luke 9:18-22 NASB)

One of my personal struggles is what I think people think of what I do.  It’s really silly, I know it is, and I do it anyway.  It’s kind of like my difficulty separating movies from reality.  I know they’re not, but I get sucked in and, well, make silly decisions or assumptions.  But there is some value to knowing what people think.  One of the things knowing what people think helps me with is having a context for what I think.

So, when I look at the verses on Herod, just prior to this, the same list of options for who Jesus is appears.  He is John the Baptist, Elijah, or one of the risen prophets of old.  This is the public context for PT who I discussed in my last entry.  Oh, PT are the initials for Penitent Thief.  We seem to know the names of his parents, his wife, and where he’s from, just not his name or the name of his brother (Impenitent Thief) who died with him. But they were brothers…I guess.  Sorry, a rant against Wikipedia – had to be done.

My point is that the public opinion of Jesus was that He was a guy, pretty terrific, possibly back from the dead, but still, just a guy.  When Peter confesses Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus tells them not to tell anyone.  The public opinion context remains.  The public opinion was left unchanged by Jesus’ prediction He would be mistreated and killed, only to rise on the third day.  The public opinion is the opinion of those who’ve heard, perhaps even seen, but never experienced.  Maybe they were among the five-thousand who ate.  Maybe they were in the crowd as Jesus went o Jairus’ house. But they never understood what they saw, heard, or ate.

So, what people think may be helpful to create a context in which I worship, study, pray, and listen for my Master.  The public opinion helps me realize that I am an alien in a foreign land.  It helps form a context for what I do as ministry.  It can be overwhelming, depleting, and hopeless to think about.  But if I step back and look a this context, it’s the deviations, the anomalies, and the oddities that stand out.  I don’t want to know why the people think what they do.  I want to know why the deviations think the way they do.  I want to know why someone left the public opinion behind and somehow knew Jesus was King.  I want to know why knew it was more important to follow Jesus all over Judea and Galilee rather than keep working nets or a tax booth.  Why did the thief on the cross know Jesus wasn’t done, on the cross?  They shine out of a dark backdrop of what the people think, and those are the ones I want to be like.

What’s your view through the knothole?