One day a fly was buzzing by a spider web in an old house. The web was bright and shiny and seemed to be an attractive place for the fly to rest. The crafty spider had thoroughly cleaned his web after each “customer” so that the other flies would not get suspicious, yet this particular fly was quite intelligent and was troubled by the fact that no other flies were resting on the web. The old spider called out, “Why don’t you come into my parlor and sit?” The fly, now even more wary, replied, “No, thank you. I don’t see other flies in your home, and I am not going in alone.”
A short time later, the same fly saw on the floor below him a large crowd of flies dancing around on a brown piece of paper. He was delighted! This seemed like a fine place to land, and it was obviously safe since lots of flies had already done so. He started to descend toward the paper. Just before he landed a bee zoomed by and shouted, “Don’t land there, stupid! That’s flypaper!” The quite intelligent fly called back, “Don’t be silly. Those flies are dancing. There’s a big crowd there. Everybody is doing it. That many flies can’t be wrong.” So the fly landed and soon discovered that, not only had all those other flies been wrong, but he himself had made a fatal mistake.
Friends, this little story reminds us of the folly of making decisions on the basis of “what everybody is doing.” Even those who are intelligent and usually very discerning, can be lulled into a moral complacency where they make poor choices simply because they are following the lead of others. We need to realize that “what everybody is doing” can sometimes be wrong, foolish, and dangerous. For example, when a lot of our friends are abusing alcohol and other drugs, we need to realize they are all making a big mistake. When many people we know are having a sexual relationship with someone to whom they are not married, it is important to remember that what they are doing is wrong. When others allow money, things, sports, or other recreational activities to be a higher priority in their lives than pleasing the Lord, we should recognize that they are making foolish choices.
When the Bible tells us to “not be conformed to the world” (Romans 12:2), it is essentially warning us to not believe and do what everyone else is believing and doing. In the Old Testament, we see that the people of Israel repeatedly got into trouble when they started doing things the way their pagan neighbors were doing them. The biblical heroes are those individuals like Moses, David, Daniel, and Paul who decided to take the right path, even when everyone else around them seemed to be choosing the wrong one. Rather than simply doing what everybody else is doing, we need to focus on honoring the Lord Jesus. That includes reading God’s Word, the Bible, and seeking to follow the instructions He provides for us.
Albert Einstein once said, “The person who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd.” My favorite adaptation of that quote is “progress is never made by those who follow the crowd, but by those who dare to show the crowd a better way.” Friends, if we are following the Lord Jesus, we are showing the crowd a better way.