Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stay Away From Mobs

Over seventy years ago our father told us a story. My telling of it will not be accurate. This is how I remember it. I was probably seven-years-old. There was a black man who was arrested and in the Douglas County Jail in Omaha. A lynching mob stormed the jail. The sheriff stood in front of the jail and told the mob that they could not have the man. They would have to lynch him too. That seemed ok with the crowd. They took the sheriff and the prisoner and were hanging them from a lamp post with the crowd in an uproar. Then an open touring car came through the crowd under the lamp post and cut down the sheriff and the prisoner and then sped off. The moral my father taught us was this: “Never join a crowd as a spectator. The spectators in number give authority to the bad guys who would not dare do things if they did not have a crowd behind them.”

In my reading this morning I came across this short sentence in Exodus 23:2, “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”

Almost daily on television we see crowds of people chanting or yelling in an uproar. Even if the cause were “right” the mob and the uproar is not right and Christians should not participate, even as spectators.

“When they heard this, they were furious and began shouting: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" Soon the whole city was in an uproar. The people seized Gaius and Aristarchus, Paul's traveling companions from Macedonia, and rushed as one man into the theater. Paul wanted to appear before the crowd, but the disciples would not let him. Even some of the officials of the province, friends of Paul, sent him a message begging him not to venture into the theater. The assembly was in confusion: Some were shouting one thing, some another. Most of the people did not even know why they were there. The Jews pushed Alexander to the front, and some of the crowd shouted instructions to him. He motioned for silence in order to make a defense before the people. But when they realized he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison for about two hours: "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” Acts 19:28-34

These riots are not always religious or political. They may be celebrations of Super Bowl, World Cup, Stanley Cup or World Series victories. Things get broken and people get killed. Stay away from mobs.

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