Three hermits are living in a cave. Each has taken a vow of silence. One day, a horse runs by the entrance of the cave.
Two years pass…
One of the hermits says, "Wasn’t that white horse beautiful?"
A year goes by…
The second hermit says, "It was black."
Six months later, the third hermit stands up and says, "Look, if all you two are going to do is argue, I can’t stay here."
“A man is judged by the company he keeps,” goes one variation on an old proverb. Another lesser known variation is, “You can tell a man’s character by the friends he keeps.” I’m sure that all of us have heard, “Birds of a feather flock together.”
The Bible likens people to sheep. Who hasn’t heard Psalm 23, “The LORD is My Shepherd”? Jesus even declared Himself as “The Good Shepherd”.
Some, particularly unbelievers, have even come up with the (intended to be) derogatory term “sheeple” to designate people who apparently follow their particular religious leaders with little to no thought about where they are going or why.
In yesterday’s article, I stated, “No group of men, no organization and no church is going to get you into the Kingdom.” However, let’s not make the mistake of stating that the church is irrelevant. Let’s not make the mistake of believing we are intended to do it on our own. GTA used to talk about individuals who wanted to be solitary Christians, those “Who go around saying, ’Just you and me, Lord. Just you and me.’” God created a Church. Jesus came to build His Church.
I also wrote yesterday that human groups do exert control on their members as a matter of course. In particular, all religions exert some form of mind control on its members. Don’t believe me? Go into a Baptist Church and, in the name of freedom of speech, begin to espouse the doctrine of the seventh day Sabbath. Or, go into a Catholic Church and begin arguing to get rid of statues of Mary in the name of the 2nd Commandment. If you continue long enough, you’ll probably be asked to leave.
It isn’t just religious organizations, of course. Imagine the fine treatment you’ll get if you go to a Republican political rally wearing a T-shirt in support of the Democratic rival. Some of us have witnessed first hand the derision of others in biology class if we suggest that life was created.
There are acceptable methods of control, and there are unacceptable methods of control. Some would even argue that there are acceptable things to control and unacceptable things to control.
Getting back to the main point, then, there are accepted and acceptable forms of group control. Often, this takes the form of peer pressure. Essentially, not all peer pressure is bad.
14Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14, King James Version)
22Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established. (Proverbs 15:22, King James Version)
11Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:11-12, King James Version)
The key, of course, is to be sure you are led first by God. Open God’s word and see if the advice and counsel you receive is in line with Scripture.
In any group there will be leaders and there will be followers. Both are required to get the job done. You might be a leader one time, and you might be a follower the next twenty. That’s just how it goes sometimes.
The important thing is to not follow the lead sheep off of a cliff.
For a related post, check out Prevail Magazine's article at Jesus Christ is Building an Organization.