By Pastor Jeff,
Have you ever been a situation in which you know you should of stepped in to help someone in a dire situation? This is called “The Bystander Affect” which is defined as the following according to Britannica, “The inhibiting influence of the presence of others on a person’s willingness to help someone in need. Research has shown that, even in an emergency, a bystander is less likely to extend help when he or she is in the real or imagined presence of others than when he or she is alone. Moreover, the number of others is important, such that more bystanders leads to less assistance, although the impact of each additional bystander has a diminishing impact on helping.”
Probably the most common reason is more likely fear that keeps us from stepping in or stepping out.
We can witness this in several events in the word of God from the building of Noah’s Ark in which countless bystanders heard Noah’s warning of a coming flood but only Noah’s family and the the animals God brought entered this Ark. Elijah on Mt Carmel, 1Kings 18:21, “And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.” We see Elijah was not alone when he challenged Ahab and all the false prophets but no one would say a word until after the victory, 1Kings 18:39, “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.”
Jesus many times in His ministry spoke in front of many thousands of people yet when He needed someone to speak up for Him in front of His accusers, all He has were bystanders. At the crucifixion of our Lord and Savior there was no doubt a very large group of bystanders in the crowd as we recall this was the, “Passover” so you had many thousands of Israelites in Jerusalem.
I think one of the greatest examples of the “Bystander Affect” is found in 1Samuel 17:1-4, “Now the Philistines gathered together their armies to battle, and were gathered together at Shochoh, which belongeth to Judah, and pitched between Shochoh and Azekah, in Ephesdammim. And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them. And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span.” I don’t know how many men were with Saul but it was way more the a couple, lets read on, 1Samuel 17:8-11, “And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us.
And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.” All bystanders, no one would stand up to this Philistine until the anointed King David showed up. Now many stories of David and Goliath picture David as just a boy but that really doesn’t seem to be the case, young yes, but probably in his early 20’s, and full grown as the reason that he didn’t wear Saul’s armor was not because it didn’t fit but because he didn’t feel worthy to wear it. David was not going to be a bystander and defeated the giant Goliath for the God and the nation of Israel.
As believers in Jesus Christ I believe it’s time for us to stop being bystanders and get into the Frey, it could be making your voice be heard in the political arena, which many think Christians shouldn’t get involved with. I of course disagree as we are seeing in our country what happens when we don’t make our voice known. The most important area to stop being a bystander of course is letting others know of what Jesus Christ has done for them. Not everyone will listen and accept the call but that doesn’t excuse us to avoid telling them, the world is becoming increasingly anti God as you can easily see everyday, but remember, it’s not God’s will for any to perish, but all come to repentance. We are given the great commission and have been given the power to share it, Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Stop being a bystander friends, Jesus is coming, and coming ver soon!
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