When a crowd cheers, beware. Crowds are not rational. When a crowd gathers, the mob rules. And raw emotion is the fuel that moves a crowd and unleashes it in destructive ways.

When a crowd gathers as a rally, listen. Listen to what the crowd is fed. Listen to what the crowd chants. Is the crowd fed with good fruit, or rotten fruit. Is it bearing good fruit or rotten fruit. Or Matthew 12:35 has Jesus saying the following, “The good person brings good things out of a good treasure, and the evil person brings evil things out of an evil treasure.”

Crowds have cheered about a variety of things throughout time. Some for good things, and some for not so good things.

When crowds cheer dehumanizing language, look out. When crowds cheer language that scapegoats people, watch out. Anyone who stands in the way of a crowd is in danger.

Crowds cheered as gladiators killed each other. Crowds cheer when there is an enemy to hate. Crowds cheered when Christians were fed to the lions. Crowds cheered at public hangings. Crowds cheered when Jesus was sentenced to death. Crowds cheer when hatred is used to fuel base emotions. Crowds cheer when death is proclaimed – specifically someone else’s death. Crowds cheer when people can be scapegoated and blamed. Crowds cheer when ignorance is proclaimed as truth. Crowds cheer when prejudices are upheld and strengthened by shear numbers of followers. Crowds cheer when they hear what they want to hear. Crowds cheer when what they believe to be true is constantly reinforced as true, rather than exposed for the lies that they are.

You can’t reason with a crowd. There is no point. You can’t communicate with a crowd if your message is different than the common held belief of the crowd – no matter how true your message. You can’t change a crowd. You can only feed a crowd what it is already feasting on – good fruit or rotten fruit.

Crowds cheer and chant. And eventually they disperse. And a crowd becomes a bunch of people. People who turn their brains back on. People who have lives. People who are made in the Image of God. Crowds block our sight of the Image of God. But we must have eyes to see this image. As difficult as it is sometimes. Because if we don’t see the Image of God, even in a crowd, we are really just forming another crowd.

Open us to see the Image of God in all peoples. Let those who have eyes see. Amen.