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April 11, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Those tending the pigs ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they saw the man who had been possessed by the legion of demons, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people what had happened to the demon-possessed man—and told about the pigs as well. Then the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”—Mark 5:14–17 (NIV)
Have you ever heard of the bandwagon effect? I had not either until I googled “Why is it easy for someone to follow a crowd?” I don’t know about you, but for years now, I have noticed a funny pattern among groups of people. Oftentimes, if there is a certain situation or topic that causes a commotion or any sort of hype, a group of people will feed off of one another’s viewpoints and energy to create an even bigger deal of the situation or idea. This happened to me a lot throughout my school career. From geeking out over the new hip toy in elementary school, to talking about the next popular couple in middle school, to complaining about the homework in high school, each of these scenarios involved a group of people hyping up a certain piece of “news.”
In today’s Scripture, we see this similar effect take place among the people in the Gerasenes region where Jesus had just healed a demon-possessed man. Now obviously this news would cause a commotion all on its own; however, the human tendency to follow a crowd only amplified it. Such a commotion over a miracle of Jesus couldn’t be bad, though, right? Actually, yep. It certainly can be, and it was in this story as they “began to plead with Jesus to leave their region.”
I initially felt surprised to read their reaction, but it soon hit me that we often do the same thing. Whether it be a believer or a nonbeliever, the name and presence of Jesus always bring conviction. His holiness and power do exactly what they should do: remind us of our imperfections. Therefore, His presence may be uncomfortable for many of us—especially those of us stuck in sin. Not only that, but His kindness, grace, and love inevitably demand that we repent and turn away from such sin to fully embrace His forgiveness and holiness!
Like in many cases, the bandwagon effect produced negative results in this scenario. Instead of following a crowd that leads us to believe we don’t need Christ’s forgiveness and salvation, we must follow the One who upon encountering His glory and grace will produce both a repentant heart and a lifestyle transformation: Jesus.
It will not be easy or even natural. It will require discipline and courage, but our God is so good that He helps give us such discipline and courage when we truly seek Him and trust in Him. May we take hope in that today as we follow Him!
PAUSE: Think about what areas you tend to follow the crowd over Christ?
PRACTICE: Take steps today to unashamedly accept and follow Jesus wholeheartedly! Perhaps that means sharing the gospel with someone or just being kind to someone who is not very kind to you.
PRAY: Heavenly Father, thank You for being so gracious to work a miracle in my life. I pray You would help me to forget about what the crowd thinks and surrender to You! I praise You today and every day because You are worthy and Your grace fills me with joy, grants me purpose, and builds my courage. I will follow You! Amen.
Samy Rodriguez has been serving with the Calvary writing team since 2020 as a senior at Calvary Christian Academy. Before going to study communications, biblical studies, and intercultural studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University, she interned with the Calvary Communications Team and was a student leader in HSM (High School Ministry). She is passionate about communicating God’s Word and looks forward to continuing to serve in ministry after college.