What we called “fads” when I was growing up (think bell-bottom jeans, chia pets, and disco dancing), are more likely today called trends. However, it might just as easily be called “mob mentality” as people swarm to what’s hot at the moment. Some easy examples might be: the stock market, fashion apparel, automobiles, music, and yes… religion. Let me be clear. I said religion, not Christianity. Not many people today rush to join the movement of TRUE Christianity.
Pundits like to lump all faith models together in a box, and call them “religion,” and in so doing deny there is ever really any difference in any of them. Whether it’s Islam, Baha’i, Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Sikhism, Unitarianism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Native Spirituality, Judaism, … or Christianity… pundits say they are all the same. They say it’s a swarm mentality that draws us to these flames. I contend that the religions of the world have only one thing in common. Humans are created with an awareness of God, and have tried since the world began to worship the Creator, but in twisted man-invented ways. Humans in their core DNA are hard-wired to worship something, or someone, so in the absence of wealth, fashion, cars, and music… they create deities of their own design.
Within the construct of each world-religious system, there are variations and themes which spread their influence in thousands of different directions. Following the trends of ancient peoples, in the 21st century it is often “fashionable” (I call it swarmy) to announce your inclusion into one of the “newer” or “more ancient” religious systems like Scientology (newer) or Satanism (ancient). People swarm to a widely-shared but short-lived enthusiasm for something new. Until the next “new” thing comes along. Or until the fallacy of the bandwagon they hopped onto fails to satisfy their need for new.
Two thousand years ago, Jesus had thousands of followers swarming into every tiny village and town He wandered through. They all sought to catch a glimpse of the miracle-working carpenter who taught the Torah and read the Prophets with authority. The swarming, teeming crowds became so strong at one point that He had to get into a boat and push off shore just a bit to keep from getting trampled under foot. [Matthew 13:2] Most of the crowds from His first year had abandoned Him by the third year, and were no where to be found in the end. Thousands cheered and celebrated as He entered Jerusalem on Sunday before Passover. Thousands yelled and cursed Him, as He carried His own cross through the streets to Golgotha. Do you see the “swarm” mentality in this historically accurate narrative?
It takes more commitment than a “fad” mentality to be in relationship with the Creator of the universe. Jesus told one woman, “But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” [John 4:23-24] These words apply today, at least as much as when they were spoken, perhaps even more. Combine this thought with what Jesus said that night he was arrested, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” [John 14:6]
These two foundational truths compel us to seek more than a fad, more than a trendy spiritual answer. We find it only in the ultimate reality of Jesus’ words to one of the Jewish leaders named Nicodemus. John 3:16 “For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and ONLY Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus died for the swarming mass of humanity. When Jesus said “everyone,” everyone means me. Everyone means you. It requires more than just being part of the swarm. Stepping over the line of faith, and believing these three verses, receiving the grace offered in Christ, is a personal commitment. It is how a person fulfills their created purpose. Living in this grace and extending God’s glory, is what true worship means. It requires more than just being part of the swarm.