Tag Archives: Mob Mentality

God’s People, part 267: The Mob

Read Acts 18:9-17

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“‘Why?’ Pilate demanded. ‘What crime has he committed?’ But the mob roared even louder, ‘Crucify him!’”  (Mark 15:14, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 267: The Mob. As an avid moviegoer and history buff, I can tell you that most “creature features” and monster movies has an angry mob. From Disney to Universal Horror, the angry mob often is a character unto itself. Think of Beauty and the Beast. In that film, Gaston was able to turn the villagers of a sleepy French village into an angry mob ready to hunt the Beast. Of think of Frankenstein, where an angry mob rises up against the monster over the accidental death of one of the children.

In history, there are plenty of examples of the angry mob wreaking terror upon individuals caught in their wrath. Marc Antony and Gaius Octavius were able to rouse an entire nation into an angry mob against the conspirators who assassinated Gaius Julius Caesar. Ironically, that mob mentality not only led to the deaths of the conspirators, but also the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire. Freedoms and a semi-democratic republic were lost due to the anger of the nation. Instead, their anger led to one of the most corrupt and oppressive dictator regimes in history.

The bloody Reign of Terror during the French Revolution was another horrifying example of mob mentality. During that period, the monarchs, aristocracy, clergy, the wealthy and anyone deemed sympathetic to those institutions and stations lost their heads, literally, in front of angry, bloodthirsty mobs. There are so many other cases of the devastation left behind the wake of angry mobs. Jesus was the victim of one, as was Paul, as was Stephen, and so on and so forth. In the 21st century, we have seen angry mobs burn and loot cities during important civil rights protests and we have seen angry mobs marching with guns and tiki torches, while shouting racist and antisemitic rhetoric.

In our Scripture, some people were angry with Paul and his fellow Christians who were convincingly preaching the good news of Jesus Christ. At first, religious leaders took their complaints against Paul and company to the law; however, the law did not see this as a legal issue and dismissed their complaints. What happened next? Simple. The religious leaders riled up an angry mob and had the leader of the Synagogue that Paul was preaching at beaten. That doesn’t make much sense, right? Well, angry mobs tend to run on angry emotion and not logic.

This should caution us. In a day and age where mob mentality rules, where success is measured on whose mob gathering is biggest, we ought to refrain from joining the mob. Christ did not call us to get sucked up by mob mentality; rather, Christ has called us into himself, and has called us to put his commandments above the commands and/or requests of any other leader. Let us, as Christians, rise above the fray and follow Christ in being peacemakers, not mob rousers.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Solitude is strength; to depend on the presence of the crowd is weakness. The man who needs a mob to nerve him is much more alone than he imagines.” – Paul Brunton

PRAYER
Lord, help me to rise above mob mentality and keep my heart and my focus on you and your commandments. Amen.

God’s People, part 263: Jason

Read Acts 17:1-9

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then they put their hands over their ears and began shouting. They rushed at him and dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. His accusers took off their coats and laid them at the feet of a young man named Saul.”  (Acts 7:57-58, NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Part 263: Jason. Now, if you are like me and really, really into the Halloween season and horror movies, you might be scratching your head and thinking, wait a minute, Jason Voorhees was in the New Testament of the Bible? Well, I am sorry to disappoint any Friday the 13th fans out there, but this is not about Jason Voorhees, but about a gentile Christian whose name happened to be Jason. To make up for not having Jason Voorhees as the subject of this devotion and, honestly, that would be are hard one to pull off (though don’t tempt me), I used Jason Voorhees’ image with a minor modification to remind you that it is NOT THAT JASON.

All jokes aside, I can imagine most people didn’t realize that Jason was a Biblical name, but it very much was. In Act 17, Paul and Silas found themselves in the Greek city of Thessalonica, which was where Paul wrote his letters to the Thessalonians to. As was his practice up to this point, Paul would go into the cities and immediately go to the synagogues in order to bring the Good News to diaspora Jewish communities.

This, of course, was met with mixed results. Some people found Paul to be very convincing and became believers in Messiah Jesus; however, others saw Paul to be problematic and stealing away people from their communities of believers. What’s more, they found the teachings about Jesus to be against what they understood the Messiah to be and so they believed that Paul and Silas were leading people astray.

Often times, as was the case in Thessalonica, the leaders of the synagogues and other devout Jews would take to the streets in order to hunt Paul and his companions down, have them beaten, arrested and/or expelled from their cities. That is exactly what happened in Acts 17:1-9. As anyone knows, when communities of people get angry, they form mobs and storm the streets.

That is what these leaders and people did. They went to the house of Jason, where they believed Paul and Silas were. As it turned out, they were not there. So, one might imagine that the mob went back out into the streets to search for Paul. Nope. Reason and mobs don’t go often go together. Instead, this angry mob siezed Jason and some other believers in his household and took them before the town council, after which they were thrown in Jail and made to post bail.

There’s an important lesson here for us to learn. I am sure, individually, the members of this mob were decent people who loved God and were trying to safe-keep their faith. Gatekeepers are important when it comes to religious integrity, to a degree; however, mobs and mob mentality are NEVER godly things and they often lead to people getting persecuted, hurt and even destroyed. What’s more, decent people turn into abhorrent monsters when in a mob.

Let us be the anti-mob. It is very easy for Christians to get into the mob mentality. I have seen it happen in churches, were a large group of people suddenly and angrily turn on a pastor or other leaders. I have seen it on Twitter, Facebook and Social Media, where a group of Christians berate and belittle other believers for holding different beliefs than them. Mob mentality, whether in person or virtual, is not godly and we, as Christians, are called to be the anti-mob, where we view all people, whether we like them or not, as beloved children of God created in His image. Let us be challenged by this and continue to grow into who God has created us to be.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“There is nothing more foolish, nothing more given to outrage than a useless mob.” – Herodotus

PRAYER
Lord, help me to live my life and approach differences, even conflict, with your wisdom, discernment and love. Amen.

Fleeing the Mob

Read Mark 15:1-20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then some Jews arrived from Antioch and Iconium and won the crowds to their side. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of town, thinking he was dead.” (Acts 14:19 NLT)

TheMobScenePerhaps you have seen the old Universal film, “Frankenstein”, starring Boris Karloff. If so, you will certainly remember the scene of the townspeople forming a mob  and chasing after the monster accidentally killed the little girl while playing with her on the dock. The girl had stumbled upon the monster, well, the monster actually stumbled upon her. All the same, the girl was trying to teach the monster a game of throwing flowers into the water of a pond.

She threw one and it floated. The monster imitated and his floated too; however, when all of the flowers were floating in the water and there were none left to throw, the monster decided to try the same thing with the little girl. It was, in all honesty, an innocent mistake. Unfortunately, the little girl could not swim and ended up drowning. Add that to the fact that this creature, this “monster”, was pieced together with the body parts of dead corpses by a crazed and mad scientist, and the people in the girl’s village were riddled with fear and rage.

Of course, fear and rage make for a deadly combination and, so, an angry and vengeful mob was the result. For those who remember this film, you will remember that this mob chased after the monster and trapped him in a windmill. In their rage, they torched the windmill and the monster inevitably burned alive after the windmill caved in on him. Following the film’s conclusion, one is seriously left wondering who was truly the monster: the creature, or the neglectful mad scientist and the raging mob.

Another film comes to mind when I think of mob mentality. In the Walt Disney film “Beauty and the Beast”, Gaston riles a mob when Belle tries to save her father from being committed in a mental institution. In order to show that her father isn’t crazy in his ramblings about a “beast” living up in the castle, she shows Gaston and the crowd the beast through magic mirror the beast gave to her as a gift.

Using fear to persuade them, Gaston is able to easily persuade the  crowd into believing that this beast is ferocious and will come in the night to steal away their children and sink his sharp fangs into their flesh. Belle tries to counteract Gaston by telling the villagers that the beast is actually friendly and means them no harm; however, they’ve already mobbed together with pitchforks and guns and there was no way that reason was ever going to break through to them.

The mob ignored her completely, locked her up with her father, and ran off into the night to go kill the beast. In the end, they did so to their own detriment and at their own peril. Gaston, himself, ends dead as a result of his fear mongering. Thus, both “Frankenstein” and “Beauty and the Beast” can be seen, among other things, as a sharp and potent warning against mobs and the mob mentality.

We are so prone, as human beings, to run to the mill with what “could happen” that we often throw caution and reason to the wind in order to attack what we fear most. I see this happening right now in this country during this election cycle, and it is most certainly happening in our world as well. The more we are attacked by terrorists, and the more people’s perceptions of our stability and security become cynical and/or negative, the more people use that fear to drum up support for action that may or may not be reasonable, let alone practical or warranted.

The challenge for us is to flee the mob, to stay clear of it, to separate ourselves from the ferver, the fear mongering, the hype, the rhetoric, and the polarization that goes on in our communities and in our worlds. We need to put ourselves in an open space where we have room to take a deep breath, think, pray and allow God to guide us. It’s not that we shouldn’t heed warnings and/or look at all fear-inducing warnings as false or bad. They very well could be true; however, it is how we react to them that makes or breaks us. When we react like the common mob caught up in a rageful ferver, we fail to use our heads, our hearts, and our faith. God is calling us to flee the mob and seek God’s guidance and wisdom out in all that we do.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“The mob is the mother of tyrants.” – Diogones

PRAYER
Lord, help us to not to get caught up in the mob mentality and to seek only your ways and your guidance. Amen.