Strength in Numbers

Today’s blog was inspired by Acts 2:42 and Matthew 18:20 where we are told not to neglect gathering together with other believers and that Jesus is where two or more are gathered together. However, I wanted to look up some cultural references about gathering together or strength in numbers, and my search turned up a few unusual sources: a blog by Bill Gates, and the urban dictionary. I did not know that Bill Gates has a blog so I had to take a look. He writes about a woman from Mozambique by the name of Cecilda Fumo who is HIV positive and how she felt that she was going to die until she found others like her. A small support group was formed, and it grew in number. Eventually Cecilda became the leader of the group. From there she got involved with a program that delivers lifesaving anti-retroviral treatment directly to villages by members of their own community. Without the support of others Cecilda may never have gotten involved in such a program, and many would have continued to slip away never having received proper treatment for a fighting chance at life. I know that Mr. Gates has a reputation of benevolence, so I was not surprised that he would write such an uplifting and positive story. But I was a little shocked at what the urban dictionary had to say. Their definition of strength in numbers: “an idiomatic expression to mean an emotion and morale strength drawn from a group of people. Sometimes this can lead to a mob mentality.” The mob mentality bit took me by surprise. I never thought of it that way, but it sheds new light on a lot of things. In America today there is a lot of bickering

Hebrews 10_24

over constitutional rights. One of those rights we don’t hear much about is the right to peaceable assemble. It is part of the first amendment which everyone knows as the one about freedom of speech and freedom of religion. It is interesting that it is placed together with these two other freedoms—you need like-minded people in order to advance any ideology.

Perhaps one reason the Pharisees didn’t like Jesus’ ministry is because they were familiar with the urban dictionary and feared the mob. They were always going after Jesus but could never lay their hands on him, even when he was in the temple and synagogues. Jesus didn’t need the strength of the mob for protection, he had armies of angels that would come to his rescue if called. But the Pharisees didn’t know that, so they were afraid of what they could see. Hebrews 11:37 tells us that Moses kept going and was not afraid of the king’s anger because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible. When the king of Arman sent his army to find Elisha they were blinded, but the eyes of Elisha’s servant were opened, and he could see the entire hillside filled with horses and chariots of fire ready to defend Elisha, and his servant, against the attack of the enemy. We gather together with other believers, not only to learn God’s word, but to gather strength from each other’s testimonies, trials, and tribulations. And we draw strength from that invisible army and the “great cloud of witnesses” (Hebrews 12:1) which surrounds us. Even when you are alone, you are more than one. If you are a believer, the Holy Spirit lives inside you, 1+1=2. As Christians we are strong, not because the American Constitution says we have the right to freely practice our religion and to gather together with like-minded individuals at the risk of leading to a mob mentality; we are strong because on our own we are greater than one. But that doesn’t mean we should neglect going to church. We need the accountability that comes with being part of a community of believers.

Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

–Hebrews 10:25 NLT

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