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God’s People, part 267: The Mob

Read Acts 18:9-17

“‘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.

“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

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