Whose Opinion Should We Follow? …Fear?

 …ought we to follow the opinion of the many and fear them; or the opinion of the one man who has understanding? (Socrates in Plato’s “Crito”)

The philosopher Socrates had been condemned to death by the Athenians. As he waited in prison for the sentence to be carried out, one of his friends, Crito, came to see him. Crito was coming not only for himself, but on behalf of many of the friends of Socrates in order to try to persuade him to escape and flee to another city to save his life. Crito tries to use the argument of how many wish him to escape and how many there are that would willingly help him. He also cites that this is what most people would do, had they the opportunity. Of course Socrates is not persuaded and through an extended dialogue with Crito shows him the rightness of his position and the wrongness of Crito’s own position. In the above quote, Socrates states the opinion of the masses is worthless if they are wrong and we ought to follow the counsel of one man if he has understanding and is wise. Of course had Socrates consulted the Holy Scriptures, he would have come to this conclusion without such a lengthy, philosophizing dialogue.

Are we concerned about the many?

I fear that multitudes of Christians are more concerned with the opinion(s) of the masses than they are with securing the favor of God. More often than not, following God means departing from the ways of the masses and, as a result, standing out from the crowd. Many would like to stand out from the crowd if it meant gaining the crowd’s approval, but for the Christian, standing out from the crowd most often means earning their scorn and ridicule. Most will do anything to avoid scorn, or being the object of laughter and ridicule.

In order to “blend in” and not stand out from the crowd, many Christians are adopting the world’s standards of behavior, dress and language. I remember a young man who had to have a new pair of sneakers for school and they had to be a certain color and certain brand name and for these traits, his parents were all to ready shell out quite a sum of money. “After all, we couldn’t have our son being the object of ridicule.” This is something that begins very early in schools and continues right on throughout a person’s adult life. Sexual immorality, dishonesty, immodesty, vulgarity and a host of other sins are routinely embraced by those calling themselves Christians, all in an attempt to follow the opinion of the many and fear them.

Choose your master!

One will be a slave to the masses and their “group think” or one will be the servant of Christ. He cannot be both. Choose whom you will serve. Israel wanted to be like all the other nations and follow their gods and engage in their wanton immoral practices. As a result they were exiled to Assyria and Babylon. Many today want to be “middle of the road” or “straddle the fence”. The truth is, those straddling the fence are only fooling themselves. God sees their hearts and sees who their real master is.

It is time we make up our minds as to whom we are going to please and whom we are going to serve. And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15, NKJV) But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. (Acts 5:29, NKJV) The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe. (Proverbs 29:25, NKJV)

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