Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Influenced by the Crowd

But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he (Jesus) be crucified and their shouts prevailed. -Luke 23:23 (NIV)

For those of you who know me well, you know that I love football. Naturally, then, this is my favorite time of the year. Not only do I get to watch a lot of football but I get to talk a lot of football with others.

Many of my friends are fans of a college team in the Southeastern Conference. We don't always agree on many things like: which stadium is the loudest, which team is the best, or which uniforms the ugliest. But there is one thing on which most of us do agree: the Alabama Crimson Tide enjoys home-cooking.

Some of you (the Tide fans) are probably dismissing that statement as "sour grapes" (It probably is). Some of you are wondering, "What does he mean by 'home-cooking'?" Well, it just seems to 13 other schools in the Southeastern Conference that Alabama gets more beneficial calls by the referees than any other team. When you play a game against the number one ranked Tide, don't expect many calls to go in your team's favor.

Now before I start getting blasted by Tide fans, I don't have any evidence to actually support the claim that your particular team gets more calls in its favor than others. But through some online searching, I did find a study from Harvard University which concludes that referees are indeed influenced by home crowds. You can find that study here.

I don't really know if referees at Alabama games are influenced by the crowd, but I know that I'm often influenced by the crowds around me. If everyone else is eating a second piece of pie for dessert, I am more tempted to eat two myself. If everyone else is reading a particular book, I'm tempted to read it as well.

In today's suggested scripture reading, Pilate interrogates Jesus and finds no basis for a charge against him. Pilate does not want to kill Jesus and instead suggests punishing and then releasing him. But the crowd is relentless and demands that Jesus be crucified. Pilate allows the crowd to influence him and he eventually hands Jesus over to be killed.

Sometimes the crowd is right. A holding penalty needs to be called. A particular voice needs to be heard. But sometimes the crowd is wrong. They just want things to go their own way to serve their own purposes.

May God grant you the grace to discern whether or not to be influenced by the crowds around you today.

* Don't fret Alabama fans: you'll have another national championship to brag about in a few months and all that the rest of us SEC fans will have is a bellyache about how your team got favorable calls all year. I'd trade places with you any day. Oh, and by the way...I heard that inciting Alabama fans is a wonderful way of increasing the readership numbers of my daily devotional. I'll let you know if it works. 

Tomorrow's suggested readings are Nehemiah 5-6, Psalm 146, and Luke 24.

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