“Part of the Crowd”

Revelation 7:9-17


            As a kid growing, just like kids growing up today, I thought I was being deprived by my parents of what I thought were the bare necessities of life. When I was told no when everyone else I knew was being told yes or that it’s okay, I felt like I was getting the raw end of the deal. Sometimes it revolved around things, sometimes it was when I wanted to go somewhere or do something. Either way, a response I often heard from my mom when I wasn’t allowed to have whatever it was that I couldn’t possibly live without was, “If everyone else decided to jump off the cliff, would you do it too?” That usually pretty much ended the conversation. I knew that there was no way I was going to get what I wanted. There was no more trying to sway my mom’s decision … at least for a while.

            So after that while, and this while could have been months, weeks, or days … after a while when the waters had calmed a bit, I thought I would try again in trying to get what it was that everyone else had that I did not. The response I received about being told no and insisting on getting whatever it was, was the same. “If everyone else decided to jump off the cliff, would you do it too?

            Now you need to realize something here. We lived in the Ozarks of Missouri, west of Branson. If you have ever been there, you know with the lakes that there are lots of cliffs or bluffs. I also had friends who did jump from some of these bluffs into the water. So one day when I received that answer of jumping off the cliff, I arrogantly and irresponsibly, I might add, answered, “Well mom … that would depend on the cliff.” … Needless to say that didn’t go over so well and it certainly didn’t end up in me getting what I wanted.

            The thing is … all I really wanted was to be part of the crowd. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to have this feeling that I was being accepted. And without having whatever it was that everyone else had that I didn’t … I didn’t feel like this was happening to me.

            But you know … this feeling of wanting to be accepted, to be part of the crowd … it isn’t just a childhood thing. It is something that affects all of us as we grow up through our teenage years and into college. It continues on through those young adult years to those mid-life years. They even continue on as we get older and older. And I think that it gets harder and harder to resist the older we get.

            I say that because it was a lot easier in college and it is still a lot easier for me now to give in to the resistance than to fight it. At least when I was a kid, when I was a teenager, I had my mom there to help prevent me from “jumping off the cliff” with everyone else. But now as an adult, even though my mom lives across town from me … she isn’t there telling me “yes” or “no” and preventing me from asking the question of “why?” or “why not?”. Now as an adult, we make our own decisions … and sometimes it is simply easier to give in and just blend in with the crowd.

            Now don’t fool yourself either … there is power in the crowd. To some degree or another, the crowd influences the things you and I do, when we do it, as well as the things we buy. Your clothes, your phone, your car, your tractor, your decisions to a degree are influenced by the crowd. The type of food you eat, the diversions that you do to occupy your free time, who you are and how you live is influenced by the crowd, by others … we just may not recognize it or choose to recognize it.

            And this isn’t all bad either. The compulsion of the crowd and the comfort of habit make it easier to make decisions in life. They make daily living simpler and less cumbersome. But it is those same forces, those same behaviors that can turn deadly. The crowd can open us up and cause us to accept and welcome different ideas, different ways of living which are contrary to who it is that we are called to be. These different ideas, these different ways of life that we welcome destroy our true identity of who it is that we are to be. They alienate us from what is true and right. These welcomed, corrupted ideas that sound great will defile us, they will slowly bring us down and lead us down a dark and cold road. The crowd will suck your soul right out of you. The crowd will kill you.

            And what is left? What is left when everything is done? What is left when the final scene of that road is shown? What will it look like?

            Well, everything will be unmasked … the expensive and shiny clothes, the exuberant celebrations, the desire to fit in, to be accepted into the crowd will all be gone. And what will be left is the lethargic, mindless, shuffling of the crowd. What will be left will be the tattered rags, the decayed and distorted features, and the futile effort to fulfill the need to be part of the crowd. With all this … the crowd collapses and moves as mere zombies.

            God, He doesn’t want you to be a mere zombie and to walk around as one of them. He wants you to be different. He wants you to be holy, to be set apart from the rest. So God has pulled you out of the crowd. God has called you by name, individually, one at a time. As the waters of Baptism spilled over your head, God said, “you {insert a couple of names} are mine.” And after God called you by your name, He sealed you with His name. You are His! You are God’s child! That is who you are!

            You have been sealed. Just like that great multitude stands in front of the throne and the Lamb that no one could number, each one in that crowd has been sealed by God. One at a time. One at a time God called, God gave the gift of faith, and God sealed. One at a time. God drew you out individually. God drew you out from the dead crowd and you have been given a new identity. An identity as a forgiven child of God. One at a time He sealed His people and made a new crowd … a multitude that no one could number (Rev. 7:9).

            This is God’s reality. This is the reality of your future. This is the reality that you will one day experience. You have been called, baptized, sealed, and are part of God’s crowd. On that glorious day of Christ’s return, you will be raised up from your grave and you will be glorified! You will be part of that massive crowd that no one could number! You will be standing before the throne of the Lamb, clothed in white robes which have been washed in the blood of the Lamb, in the blood shed by Christ on the cross. You will be standing before the throne of the resurrected Lord crying out with a loud voice “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (7:10)! This is your future! This is your reality! Don’t let the luster and the lure of the crowd around you confuse you. Don’t let it deceive you! Don’t let it bring you down! Don’t let it pollute you! You are not part of the crowd, of that crowd. You are though part of the hosts of heaven!

            What a difference there is! What a difference there is between the crowd of the walking dead that fills this world and the multitude of the resurrected that fill the newly created world and live in God’s eternal presence. What a difference!

            Don’t forget what it is that defines you and directs who you are. You live your life between two moments of God’s abundant grace and His unbelievable steadfast love. In the beginning, the flood of the waters of the baptismal font, you are called, named, and sealed by God to be one of His dearly loved children. And then at the end … at the end you will be called out of your grave and into your place within the heavenly host. But even then … even then when you stand among the saints of heaven, you are not swallowed up in the crowd and lost and forgotten about. No, when you stand there among the uncountable saints and among the angelic heavenly host, somehow God will seek and find … you. You … you will stand there, looking into God’s eyes … and you will see the tenderness and the love that your Heavenly Father has for you … His precious child.

            Today … you and I contend with the crowd that surrounds us. We contend with the pain and the turmoil. But on that day, when you stand before your Heavenly Father … the last tear will be wiped away by the finger of your Lord, or maybe it will be His thumb as He cups your face in His hands. The tribulation, the pain, the heartaches, the turmoil, the sorrow, the battle … they are all only for a while. They are just part of the life that is lived between the two amazing bookends that really matter. Tribulation is only for a while … life with the Lamb … life with your Savior … that is forever. Amen.

            The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Your Lord and Savior, now and forever. Amen.


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