If all your friends jumped off a bridge does that mean you would? These were the wise words of parents everywhere to get children to recognize that we should never do something just because our friends did. We would always answer with a resounding NO even though we knew that if our friends were doing it we would be right there doing it too no matter how dangerous it was.
Most of us have jumped off the bridge with our friends.
We may have said to our parents that we would never blindly follow our friends especially when it came to dangerous things, and, because the question was often asked using a literary device called hyperbole, we would not do what our friends were doing when it came to non-dangerous things. If my friends were jumping their bikes I was jumping mine (this was before BMX – I’m old) if my friends were driving fast, I was driving faster. If my friends were drinking, sadly I was drinking as much if not more. These are the dangerous things that make parents shutter but they were not the reason parents asked the bridge jumping question. The bridge question was never actually asked when I asked about doing something dangerous because I wouldn’t ask to do something dangerous, I would do those things without asking because the answer would have been: No!
I usually got this exaggerated metaphoric question when I asked to do something or have something and my parents asked; why? If my sister or I explained our desire with the words, “because all my friends…” we would be asked about joining our friends in the dangerous act of flying from an overpass. It didn’t matter if we wanted the latest fashion or to go out to the mall, if our reason for doing it was all my friends are going or all my friends are getting one, we would be asked if we would be willing to take part in some dangerous activity just because our friends were doing it.
Most of us have scars from jumping off bridges with our friends.
They may not all be physical scars but all of us have done things we shouldn’t have because everyone else was doing it. Many have escaped physical injury but the metaphorical bridge that most if not all jump off because others are doing the same still leaves a scar on our soul. The scar is usually relative to the height of the bridge from which we jump or fall. The height of the bridge is usually determined by distance from the solid ground we venture. The distance from solid ground we venture is usually determined by how much we are willing to give up to fit in. How much we are willing to give up to fit in is often determined by how much we are deceived by the idea that we fit in because we are doing what all our friends are doing.
Most of us don’t notice how far we have fallen when we are jumping off bridges with our friends.
The fun we are having when we fit in means we are more likely to do it again. The first time we may show up in our street clothes. Either we strip to our underwear or stay fully dressed. We join in the jump for both the thrill of it and the sense of belonging to a group that is all doing the same thing. There may have been a war that raged inside our minds, should I or shouldn’t I jump? It looks fun and everyone else is doing it but it is dangerous and I am not dressed for the plunge into the water. “Come on, do it” our friends yell. Once we see others jump we are convinced that it is survivable and that we can somehow dry our clothes before we get home and get found out. The next time is different. The bridge is higher and thrill is bigger and we have our swimsuit on. The danger seems negligible compared to fitting in and this time our parents expect us to come home wet because we told them we were going swimming. This time we have something else with us, a bottle of alcohol. We aren’t going to be left out, all our friends are doing it and we want to fit in.
The modern church hasn’t noticed how far we have fallen jumping off bridges with the world. What are you doing, you devastated one? Why dress yourself in scarlet and put on jewels of gold? Why highlight your eyes with makeup? You adorn yourself in vain. Your lovers despise you; they want to kill you. Jeremiah 4:30 (NIV). The metaphor is different but the outcome is the same. Jumping off bridges or taking a lover; making friends with the world blinds us from its dangers until we embrace it so much that we come prepared with our swimsuit or scarlet clothing and jump off the bridge or into bed because we want to fit in.
, You’re right, the world is full of lemmings. The Church should be different. Thanks for some food for thought.
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many are following off the cliff