My very first bumper sticker on my very first Car (a green 4 cyl Cortina station wagon) read:
Don’t follow the crowd, unless they are following Jesus
I’m not sure if I bought it because I was going through a rebellious phase, or because I was preaching to myself what I knew to be untrue in my life. It is easy to follow the crowd. More people must mean more right, right? Wrong!
Elijah was a loner but right. Ahab a king of a nation, but oh so wrong. Elijah was one man calling for repentance. The 450 prophets of Baal were calling for a party. (1 Kings 18:22)
I am reminded of Monty Python’s “Life of Brian”, where the whole town was chanting together “We are all individuals”, and one lone voice called out “I’m not!” It was and is all too easy to be caught up in the crowd. We live in cities, we shop at malls, we flock to celebrities, we get fed mass media opinions.
There is plenty of stuff today that the world says is right, but the increasingly small voice of God’s people say is wrong. But loud is not necessarily right, nor soft wrong. What is required is eyes that are focused heavenward and not at the world.
Even when all the signs and prophets of God say that it is wrong – eg. 3 years of famine, the king and his people continued in their unrepentant ways. As the prophets of Baal gathered to reveal the power of their god, I am sure that they earnestly thought that Baal would show up and burn up the sacrifice. But no amount of earnestness or shouting or self harm could entice Baal to come out. For Elijah however it was not any amount of chanting or cajoling that would make God reveal himself. He simply asked God to reveal his power and he did. (1 Kings 18:36-37).
Our second reading from James 4:7, 10 is helpful reminder to keep our eyes fixed on God:
Submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you… Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will lift you up.
Lord, give us, the discernment to know what is right, and the boldness to stand alone in the crowd.