I'm reading a book this week, Run With the Horses: The Quest for Life at its Best, by Eugene Peterson. It's about Jeremiah, and about standing alone against the crowd, as Jeremiah did so faithfully throughout his life, strengthened by God who had set him apart for that very purpose. I love those kinds of stories. I love Peterson's writings; it's his second book that I've read. I wish I could write like Peterson, that I were so well-read as he, to draw on so many thought pictures from others as he can. As it is, generally mine come from my own life--but still sometimes I think they illustrate my point well enough to relate. (Yes, consider yourself warned.)
When Katie was in 3rd or 4th grade, she knew a girl whose last name would be known for miles around here, and because of this fame, the girl enjoyed attentions of a crowd of fans everywhere she went. Awana meetings ended up being all about this happy child--who could sit next to her, and who might receive some of the wonderful attention this girl might bestow. Katie was, for a season, included in this group. Then one night the crowd decided to tease and embarrass a more awkward little girl who had never been included. Katie could not stomach it, and she spoke up. Well, the next thing they did was naturally to turn on her. Katie didn't care, and I never once heard her speak in regret for having stood up to them even though the result was a lonelier path. She was glad that the division line was clear and that she'd ended up on the side she had taken.
I never taught her that; I don't know that it can be taught except by the Holy Spirit. It is one of those times that makes a person glad to be a parent. Since that time, I have found a book that I have read more than once to 3rd and 4th grade girls--The Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes. It is about that very scenario, and though it isn't a specifically Christian book, it relates in little girl terms a very clear Christian truth about the importance of standing up against the crowd.
Probably everyone has seen people join with a crowd who they know is doing evil. Even if they hesitate, they go against their better thinking, in the hope that it will benefit them in the end; their silence against sin cages them and it's nearly impossible to free themselves. It is a nauseating scenario and can only bring regret. So I admire Jeremiah. Not only do I admire him for standing against the crowd, but for staying with the job of speaking out against their sin for years and years on end--even when people continually turn on him, laugh at him, take revenge and humiliate him. He is faithful to the purpose for which God made him, and cares only to work out His will against all cost.