A democracy is founded on the belief that the crowd will make a better decision than the crown. At the core of democracy is a belief in what Rosseau once philosophized as the “noble savage” . . . that at their core, humanity was basically good, and given the opportunity and the freedom, people would ultimately choose the “good” decision. Of course, biblically speaking Rosseau was wrong. At their core, humans are sinful, not noble, and given the opportunity and freedom often choose the wrong path, not the right one. That said, since all of humanity suffers from the same sinful disposition (including both the members of the crowd and the King under the crown) there is some safety in going with the “numbers” of the crowd in decision making. It seems more reasonable that one person could be wrong than several million. That is why the United States Republic has been able to stand for hundreds of years.
As helpful as the masses might be in understanding the “right” direction on some issues, the masses can be equally wrong in other situations. Depending upon your political persuasion, you probably feel that the American people got it wrong in at least one of the last two Presidential elections. Scores of other illustrations of this principle exist . . . including quite a few in the Scriptures.
In the book of Numbers, God’s people had left Egypt and were traveling through the desert moving toward the “promised land” of Canaan. As they neared this land, Moses sent out a set of spies to check out the land to see what it was like. When the crowd of 12 spies returned, 10 of them (a commanding majority) said “Great looking land, but the inhabitants are scary. We should not go forward.” Of the 12 spies, only 2 (Joshua and Caleb) believed God could provide the victory necessary to deliver the land flowing with milk and honey into their hands. In Numbers 13:30, Caleb says, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Though the majority clearly did not believe that God would provide the victory, Joshua and Caleb looked for God’s great provision. At one of the most critical points in the history of God’s people, only 2 out of 12 spies got it right.
As I thought about this story today as we approach Christmas day, I thought of how the majority of the world did not believe that Jesus’ birth was anything special on the day He was born. The majority of the earth did not believe that Jesus’ death on the cross won ANY victory on the day He died. The majority of the earth did not even notice His divinity on the day He rose from the dead. The majority of the earth still does not acknowledge Him as the only Way to God today. When it comes to the most important event in the history of the world, only a small number of people “get it right” when it comes to faith in Christ.
The lack of a majority of Christ-followers sometimes comes into clarity at Christmas time when “Happy Holidays” replaces “Merry Christmas” and the school choral performance sings more of the Snowman than the Savior . . . and this is in America. Imagine how lonely the celebration of Christmas must be for believers in Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist nations. As Americans, we want to be a part of a majority, but sometimes it is good to be a part of the minority — because sometimes the majority has it wrong. That was the case with Joshua and Caleb, and it is the same with us today.
This Christmas, don’t get all bent out of shape if your faith is not the majority opinion. Sometimes it is better to be with the King of Kings under His crown, then with the crowd.