Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Luke 13.24
It was a wonderful Sunday today. I am a bit exhausted from a long weekend so please excuse my first draft and unedited feelings this evening as I write. (I will likely wake up in the morning and clean this up more, but here is what I am really, strongly sensing and feeling right now).
In all the Gospel accounts the crowds always, always get it wrong.
They are flighty, unstable, shifty, trendy at their VERY best!
At their worst, the crowds are driven by mob mentality,
Crowd-think, group-think, at the best is mindless detachment from the real and at the worst, it is at the heart of destruction and evil.
"We are legion," roars the demoniac! to Jesus. This is another way of saying, "We are the voice of the mob, the crowd, the disembodied presence of the masses living inside of one man."
And Jesus sends them into a herd of pigs. The mob mentality is for the pigs.
Mimicking the crowds, following the crowds is our default. We follow political crowds, trends and style crowds, consumer crowds, religious crowds, whatever is "all the rage" and wherever "the latest and greatest thing is happening." The crowds blame the last president, the current president! Groupthink means we don't think for ourselves, someone else thinks for us, the media-right or left.
Rene Girard, the great anthropologist, in his theory of mimesis, says we do not know what we desire, what we want until someone else gives voice to this--a parent, a professor, a pastor, a peer--and once we hear this in the crowd we know what we want and we begin to hate those that are opposed to this, possess this, or what postmodern literary criticism calls the Other. That entity or group, that our entity and group hates, despises, rejects, and scapegoats.
I've seen this at work even among pastors and churches. (sadly, I have participated in it). And even in talking about it I must keep checking my heart that while I warn, discern, I am not judging or creating another mobthink.
Jesus over and over refuses to commit himself to the crowds because he knows what is in a crowd spirit. He knows that anonymity gives permission to the individual to be evil without consequence, to stumble forward unindividuated and in a drunken stupor. It also gives the individual permission to join in a mob like chorus of judgment and close-minded thinking as it reduced humans made in God's image to ideas, images and everything we hate about ourselves.
Even when the crowds chant, "Hosana, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord" on Palm Sunday, Jesus restrains himself, and cries over the city, saying, "Jerusalem, Jerusalem you kill the prophets . . . you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
When the demoniac says. "We are legion!" This is another way of saying, "The demons are in the crowd-think and mob."
Have you ever seen a mob? There is a mindlessness, a hypnotism, a raging energy driving the individuals out of their individual senses, away from personal, intimate oneness with God and into an impersonal inhuman oneness with the masses.
Jesus says to make every effort to enter in through the narrow gate. Having experimented with this in prayer, I really sense this is the call to step forward through the heart. The narrow-gate of the soul, the inner portal of access into the landscape of the Kingdom. This cannot be accessed through a mob, only through the heart. "Broad is the way that leads to destruction, but narrow, in the heart is the way that leads to life."
This past week I did some transformative praying on the following:
“No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” (Deut 1.35-36)
I was drawn into the wholehearted life, over and over. I saw Jesus as a wholehearted human, I saw myself as a wholehearted human, I saw you, as a wholehearted human.
Caleb was a man who differentiated himself from the crowd, bringing back a minority report, his individuation, faith-filled and wholehearted was through the heart and into God. It's the only way one can follow God, wholeheartedly, through the heart.
This is Jesus as he walks out of the wilderness, this will be us as we walk out of this season. We are NOT legion! We are ecclesia! We are called out of the crowd, awaken from the hypnotic drone to a vibrant followership of Jesus.
THE FOUR GESTURES
Reflection. What stuck out to you in the reading?
Prayer. Pray a transformational prayer about wholeheartedness.
Conversation. Have a conversation with Cleopas about all of this.