Going Against the Flow

Michael Beck

People so often take refuge in a multitude. They want what they believe to be confirmed by those around them. They need to win as many people to their side as they can. They take safety in numbers. They like to say, “Everyone is doing this,” or, “You’re the only one who believes that.”

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Rome he realized that the gospel was coming under attack. It had been around for awhile and it had some adherents among the Jewish nation, but even more detractors. Paul anticipated that he would be called into question along these lines. He knew the argument went like this: “Why are you advocating for this Jesus and putting forth these views if they have already been heard and dismissed by the majority of Jews?” Paul believed that this was a very poor argument in deciding the validity of something. It is the same argument that the Pharisees gave when they said, “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him?” (John 7:48) The Old Testament also warned that the majority is not always right. It cautions against going with the crowd, or with what most people are believing: “Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment” (Exodus 23:2)

Paul takes issue with the notion that if certain people (i.e., “men of God” who claim to “know the law”) believe something – then it must be right; or, if the same men discount something – it must be wrong. When it comes to the bulk of the Jewish nation, he says, “For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect?” (Romans 3:3) He is saying here that it makes no difference how many Jews have rejected the gospel of Messiah Jesus. Their failure to “get on board” doesn’t mean the ship is not of God. He boldly asks: “Does their unwillingness to believe nullify the gospel? Does this message now become no good, unworthy of acceptance, untrue, because its intended audience for the most part has panned it?” And he answers his own question: “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar…” (Romans 3:3) Paul is saying, “Forget about the fact that most people don’t agree with what God has decreed, every single person could flock to a lie and speak evil of the gospel and it would still be true.” And then he adds: “…as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Romans 3:3)

Fear only one thing: that you are not aligning yourself with the greater Judge, who is always right, and before whom you will one day stand.

When any of us believe something we have a very strong desire to be vindicated. We want to see those who have disagreed with us proven wrong. We are anxious to be “justifed” in our sayings, and we want to “overcome” those who have judged us. But it is possible that we one day may find out that we were on the wrong side of the truth. We may discover that we believed a lie, and we were wrong in what we declared. God however will never have this problem. One day, He will be fully vindicated. He will be accounted right in all He has said and He will completely overcome those who found fault with Him. For now, He is willing to stand alone against the hard speeches of ungodly men. (Jude 1:15) He is willing to be reproached daily by foolish men. (Ps. 74:22) He is willing to patiently endure their criticism and condemnation. What an example He has left us!

Don’t be afraid to “go against the flow.” Don’t be afraid to be the only one standing for something. Don’t be intimidated when supposedly wise and righteous men all stand in unison against you, and would have you believe that their agreement means you must be in the wrong. Don’t be afraid to be called wickedly wrong now, if it means being counted right later. Fear only one thing: that you are not aligning yourself with the greater Judge, who is always right, and before whom you will one day stand. Be willing to stand with a God who even today is in the minority concerning so many things.

There may be more angels with us than against us; but when it comes to men, a righteous voice will never be part of the majority, especially in a religious community which is blind to the truth. Come out of the multitude and take your refuge in only one.

Michael Beck is a pastor in the Dallas, TX area and the main author on Signpost. Receive a daily devotional he publishes every morning via email.