March 29: Stepping out from the pack
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Today in my Restorative Justice class we were invited into an exercise in which a statement was said – “English should be the official language of the United States” for example – and were told to take a stand by walking to the side of the room labeled either “agree” or “disagree.” As the statements were read, we moved in a hesitant shuffle to our side of choice. As the period went on, we began to notice a trend that we all moved together between agreeing and disagreeing, and that it was at first difficult for us to truly break out from the pack and say, “You know, I think I actually disagree with this one.” I realize this partly comes with the territory of being with peers who share much in common. However, no matter what the similarities or differences between us, it was too easy to get caught up in the majority opinion.
Before Jesus rode the famous donkey through the streets of Jerusalem, he made quite a name for himself by raising his friend Lazarus from the dead and performing other miracles. By the time he walked through the city, people had heard of Jesus and were excited about his arrival and went out to praise him (John 12:18). Both the disciples and the Pharisees recognized that the people gathered only to catch a glimpse of this new celebrity. But, in a beautiful gesture, Jesus accepted the people’s praise despite their seemingly little knowledge of his message.
It is much easier to celebrate when others celebrate. It is easy to dance when others are dancing and to sing when others are singing. But, how often do we wave our palm branches, shout and sing “Hosanna!” when no one else is? Instead of relying on others to determine for us what we should think, believe or say, Jesus gives us the invitation to know for ourselves that he is King. And in doing so, to praise him freely even when you are the only one. And in turn, to seek answers in him when you are afraid. For, as Jesus told the crowd in Jerusalem “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion. Your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt” (John 12:15). Do not be afraid to worship, to speak up, to be divergent, to listen to the minority or to join the song with the masses. Jesus invites us to celebrate his message not by following people, but by following him.