Happy Friday Eve 🙂 This post is inspired by the most recent assignment in my psychology class. To quote from the ABC News special, A Touch of Evil, “In 1961 Dr. Stanley Milgram came up with this experiment to test whether people would blindly follow the order of an authority figure. He found that 2/3 of his subjects were willing to give the most dangerous shock on the machine.” Fascinating but chilling study information – you can read about here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
In 2009 ABC News worked with Dr. Jerry Burger, a social psychologist at UC Santa Clara, to recreate the study to see if people had changed 45 years later.
Watch ABC’s findings here & then please come back to this blogpost to see where this is going: https://www.youtube.com/watch?app=desktop&v=HwqNP9HRy7Y
Authority & those that blindly follow…ok, deep breath for me as I keep writing and make this personal. I confess I have a problem with authority. At times, it can be a very detrimental thing in my life, but at others it has saved me and helped those around me. So what’s the difference? How do we obey when we’re supposed to – who we’re supposed to? When do we say no and stand up to authority?
Now, more than ever, we need to be looking at who we obey and why. We cannot afford to be blind. The scary thing about the most recent experiment is that they found that people obeyed at the same rate they did 45 years ago. Which brings to mind that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Many of us Christians have recently studied or are studying the life of Elijah. Prime example of someone who did not blindly follow and stood up to authority. You can read all about him in the Bible in 1 Kings (here’s another resource as well: https://www.gotquestions.org/life-Elijah.html )
The Bible is full of men and women who stood up to authority and led people out of oppression and saved others at great cost to them physically, socially, economically but they were compelled to do the right thing in the face of the wrong kind of authority. Just look up the lives of Moses, Rahab, David, Deborah, Esther, all the prophets, John the Baptist, Paul, Peter. The list is long but there’s one thing they all had in common, a higher calling. In James 5:17 he states, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours..” Let’s read that last part again, …”with a nature like ours.”
We know that these people were flawed like us. For example Elijah got spooked by Jezebel. Peter denied Jesus three times. The disciples fled the scene when Jesus got arrested and the list goes on and on with that too but they persevered. They figured out how to walk in the full power, boldness and confidence of the living God. They made the choice to lay down their lives for the greater good and that starts with thinking – thinking for yourself, asking God, listening to God, reading the Word, praying for wisdom, prayer with others for direction & confirmation, believing and having faith in the unseen and listening for the Lord’s guidance, denying your tendencies towards comfort, humbling yourself – swallowing your pride and going through the sometimes agonizing spiritual bootcamp of victories and defeats.
It means stepping out from the crowd, separating yourself. It means giving up your quest for popularity and recognizing our higher calling, the higher purpose and Who our true authority is. Jesus Christ.
Right now the lyrics from the song “Popular” from the musical Wicked popped into my head, “
“When I see depressing creatures
With unprepossessing features
I remind them on their own behalf to think of
Celebrated heads of state
Or ‘specially great communicators
Did they have brains or knowledge?
Don’t make me laugh!They were popular!
Please, it’s all about popular!
It’s not about aptitude
It’s the way you’re viewed
So it’s very shrewd to be
Very, very popular like me!“
Unlike “Glinda” in Wicked, I want to have brains and knowledge, and I believe you do too. So let’s think and follow God and lead. Let’s not be people pleasers, but God pleasers. If you battle, like I do, your tendencies towards having a problem with authority just know that’s not a bad thing. We just have to be motivated by the right reasons and then focused in the right way. God is not looking for perfect. He is looking for willing and that I am, and if you’re on this journey too, than that you are as well.
That’s why the phrase, “Don’t drink the kool aid” exists! Let’s not drink the kool aid!!
If you need some musical inspiration today, have listen to Moriah Peters “Brave“: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6xWBuWtC8MY
Thanks for reading today and let’s end this week being brave!
Thinking and questioning with you,