One of the most difficult tasks often assigned to a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ is that of identifying with Him in His willingness to stand alone.
Jesus Stood Alone
Immediately after Jesus was betrayed by Judas, the Bible records this short but poignant verse in reference to His closest friends… "And they all left Him and fled." (Mr 14:50)
The "Crowd" Is Powerful
Most of us tend to forget how powerful the tendency is to "go with the crowd" until we are in the midst of it–or even more tragically–after we have made the wrong choice.
We have all marveled at stories of people who were willing to go along with the crowd and do things that were horrifically wrong. We wonder, "How could they?" We underestimate the power of the fear of standing out from the crowd, of being different, of being ridiculed, of being attacked by those who seem to hold the "majority" opinion.
When those occasions arise, we are apt to doubt ourselves. We think, "Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I’ve not thought this through. How can all these people be wrong?"
Yet, we know by a cursory overview of history how horribly mistaken the "majority" can be.
How could large parts of the so-called Christian community in Germany have gone along with Hitler’s plans? (Not all of them! Some stood alone. And some paid with their lives.)
How could large parts of the church condone slavery in early America? Or segregation until the latter half of the 20th century?
Many of us wonder how entire churches and supposedly "Christian" denominations support abortion and homosexual behavior.
Surely there were individuals in all of these cases whose hearts kept telling them, "This isn’t right." But they simply could not bring themselves to "stand out from the crowd." It’s tough to stand alone.
God Frequently Requires that We Stand Alone
But stand alone we must! God has frequently required it of His people.
David: "Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, Especially to my neighbors, And an object of dread to my acquaintances; Those who see me in the street flee from me." (Ps 31:11)
Job: "My relatives have failed, And my intimate friends have forgotten me." (Job 19:14)
Paul: "At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. But the Lord stood with me…" (2Ti 4:16-17)
The necessity of standing alone is what Paul had in mind when he encouraged Timothy with these words:
"Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." (2Ti 2:3)
Of course, the truth is that we are never really standing alone. As Paul reminded us at one of the times when he was required to "stand alone"… "The Lord stood with me" (2Ti 4:17)
And not only will God never leave us of forsake us (Heb 13:5), but there will usually be other faithful ones who are also willing to "stand alone" if we keep our eyes open for them.
Try This Mental Exercise
Here’s a little mental exercise you might want to try.
Think of some categories or situations or issues for which you have inner convictions that you are pretty sure are not held by the majority of those around you. List as many as you can think of.
Now use your imagination to picture some situations where such an issue has come to a head. You have to make a decision. You have to choose–to stand alone on your convictions–or to "go with the flow."
Now try to come up with some actual words you might use in a situation like that.
For example, "You know, I have made a commitment to Christ about this. It’s where I have to stand."
Or maybe, "I know I may be a little different on this point. And you may think I’m weird. But I have a conviction about this."
Paul admonished the Colossians, and us, to "Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." (Col 4:6) When the actual moment arrives, God may give us words that we had not anticipated. But if we are "ready to give an answer" (1 Pet 3:15), we will be much more likely to stand firm than the poor Christian who has made no preparation and who just desperately hopes he can stay "under the radar screen."
The time will come when your family members, your fellow classmates, your fellow church members, your fellow teachers or deacons or pastors seem to see things differently than you do. They may be right. But they may be wrong. If you listen to them with a teachable spirit, they may change your mind. They may not. But whatever happens, purpose in your heart right now that you will NOT simply assume they are right because there are more of them then there are of you!
The Bible says that Daniel "purposed in his heart" to stand alone (Dan 1:8).
Are you ready to stand alone? Be ready!