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Outside the Herd

After performing the initial miracle of turning water into wine in Cana in Galilee, Jesus goes to Jerusalem for a Passover celebration. While there, he performed some miraculous “signs” (John 2:23), and, having accomplished his purposes in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, he returns to Galilee for the first time since he left for the Passover. John tells us that Jesus testified that “a prophet has no honor in his own country” and then John says that the Galileans received Jesus, “having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast” (John 4:44-45). Presumably John is implying that the Galileans received him for his miracles but not for his previous teaching and the wisdom it contained.

Why does a prophet not have honor in his own country? Two thinkers have, in their own way, explored the dynamic within human nature that underlies this phenomenon: Friedrich Nietzsche and Alexis de Tocqueville. Nietzsche explored the dynamic by which the “herd” seeks to protect itself from anyone who would rise above it in strength, excellence, or stature. The “herd” collaborates to shame (or guilt) the would-be superior into conforming to the norms of the herd. De Tocqueville, in his examination of young America’s democracy, speaks of some dangers inherent within democracy. Given a natural impulse within human beings, people will be very reluctant to allow anyone of their own to excel in any way. A significant danger of democracy, therefore, is the breeding of mediocrity.

What is the means by which the “herd” exercises control and keeps people from rising above and being distinctive? The “herd,” with one voice, attaches to the non-conformist some name of contempt: “nut,” “fanatic,” “hate-monger,” “freak”—the list goes on. This is the most powerful weapon that worldly culture turns against belief in Jesus. One cannot be a disciple of Jesus without having the “herd” call you names. The herd hates Jesus—just like he told us they would. In fact, the herd often hates the truth itself.

There is no way to be an authentic follower of Jesus today without declaring independence from the herd which believes that no intelligent human being actually takes belief in Jesus seriously. One is a nut to believe in the biblical claims about Jesus. May God give me the strength and the dignity to stand outside the herd. May God give me the strength to be a nut by believing in his Son.

 

[This edited excerpt is from “God Give Me Courage to Be a Nut” by Jack Crabtree. To read the original article, click here. More about Gutenberg College here. Or check us out on Facebook.]

 

2 thoughts on “Outside the Herd

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Jack. Just recently I was on a train to NYC and I overheard conversations that young people were having about topics ranging from organic foods to religion. When I heard them refer to Christianity, they treated it with a casual dismissal and contempt. I realized that this is widely help opinion amongst young 20-somethings. What was significant was that I am the person these young people were dismissive of and quick to mock. It left me with a feeling that sometimes life is a lonely place…that seeing things that others don’t see and believing things that most don’t believe, puts me on the fringe.

    I can’t help but feel that longing to be where God is…where we can be free to embrace God in truth and not experience contempt and mockery. I can remember a time when was taking an anthropology class and the professor made a false statement about Christianity that I felt compelled to rebut. I did so but much to the dismissal of both the professor and the class. I thought then how lonely a place it was and since then, times have only changed for the worse.

    But like you said, Jack, if in my rational mind I come to see the truth of Christianity for what it is and embrace it…if that makes me a nut, then so be it. It sucks that this is the way that it is but I want to be an authentic person and Christianity is the only thing that makes sense to me. So I guess I stand with you in praying that I have strength to be a nut as well.

  2. The herd’s disdain for Christians and Christianity is regularly observed and documented. This blog and the essay from which it was adapted are appropriate and well-stated responses to those phenomena.

    But, I am more disturbed by the degree to which the herd has invaded, even saturated in some cases, Christ’s Church. Through epidemic infection with false religions, e.g, environmentalism, “tolerance,” and what I call “sanctified Marxism,” the invaders present to the world a false Jesus. Others who self-identify as conservative also insert different sorts of false dogma, but less effectively now. Their Jesus is one not recognizable from Scripture alone, but a bearded ventriloquist’s dummy who conveniently spouts their sociopolitical dogma, giving it the appearance of virtue.

    The herd is then able to label “nuts” like you–and me–as “not a true follower of Jesus” because we believe the whole Bible and the real, living Jesus we know from it. Screwtape laughs himself silly.

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