How can an entire group of people be taken captive? You’ve likely seen the graphics where someone renders an overhead shot of a large, herded huddle of people being guarded by one or two guys with guns. How does this happen?
Granted, there are many stories where one or more breaks from the crowd and overpowers the culprit(s). On September 11th, Beamer, Bingham, Burnett, and Glick confronted the four hijackers of United 93, bringing the plane down before it could hit its intended target. There are accounts of individuals rushing school shooters or tackling someone who is threatening others with knives. We consider them heroes, and rightfully so.
John 15:13 (TLV) says, “No one has greater love than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.”
What of those left back in the huddle, though? Were they just not “hero material?” Were they so used to acting as a group, for the sake of the group, that they decided, “a risky move will get us all killed,” perhaps? Did they wonder, “What if I’m responsible for something bad happening to all these people when it could be prevented a different way?”
I think of the WWII-era Nazi soldiers storming neighborhoods to gather up the targeted people for “relocation.” Before they became groups in trucks or on the death trains, they made individual choices. Some rebelled and died there in their homes or on the street. So, in those neighborhood raids, those who remained to be gathered were the more docile folks?
Ah, now, though, we are bringing religion into the mix. Did the Jews go “as sheep to the slaughter?” Did their religion tame them into being more timid? Or, are the gentle ones, perhaps the peacekeepers, the ones who are drawn to religion? Therefore, they are an easily conquered people?
Yet, look at historic groups taken captive. They are a mix of personalities and trades. Did the warriors among them already resist and die? So, all who remained were the ones who “turned the other cheek” or are somehow too slow or too weak to fight?
Once gathered together, though, they often outnumbered their guards. Had they put their heads together and concocted a plan, wouldn’t that have been worth a try?
Maybe the average citizen doesn’t think like that. We all have independent plans. Yes, there’s often a family or company goal. But, once we are gathered into a larger group, not all goals match. Most don’t generally train to work together against a common physical enemy. But, maybe that depends on how large of a group is threatened. If the entire country is threatened by an enemy, the citizens therein usually ban together and fight in the name of that country.
In the military, the leaders train soldiers to obey their commands. Eventually, those soldiers work together as powerful, close-knit units, especially once on the battlefield. There’s a common goal, and all have sworn to accomplish it.
I guess, when I think about it, the same thing happens when there’s a common “cause.” Within a country, a group of like-minded people will ban together to pass around inspirational, arousing rhetoric and “get on the same page” to create forward movement toward the goal. And, there are those who are passionate about their chosen cause, no matter the cost. Others seek out a cause just to feel a sense of belonging or for some other gain unrelated to the cause itself (mercenaries, for example).
Let’s boil it down again to the individual within the captive group. Have you ever placed yourself there, in your mind? Would you be one of the early rebels shot in place, perhaps as an example to onlookers who see what happens to those who resist? Would you go peacefully, at first, figuring you can plan a revolt or an escape later? Do you think of Joseph and turn to God, figuring He’s in control and must have a reason He’s allowing you to be enslaved?
What drives that choice in the moment? Is it personality? Is it training? Experience as a leader? Who it is that is threatened? How often you’ve worked in a group setting? Self-confidence? Beliefs/religion?
Ratcheting it down further, I think about me and what I’d do. In public, in group settings, I appear to be a docile person. Folks would likely see me as an easily-led lamb. Honestly, I don’t know how I would act in a setting where I am part of a threatened group. I look back in my own history for possible answers.
When an “ex” was angry with me, raising his hand to slap my face, I stepped toward him! Nose-to-nose, I squinted and assertively whispered, “You follow through with that and you won’t see me again.” His shocked look matched my own inward surprise at myself. His hand dropped to his side, and I walked away. Yes, I eventually left him.
Similarly, I’ve gone toe-to-toe with violently angry people in defense of someone else. I know that it was confidence and power from God making that happen. But, none of those were situations where I was in a group being jointly threatened. Would I think and act differently as part of a group? I’m not sure. I’d hope to be within God’s will in however I am to behave.
And, that’s just it. If God brought about this captivity as a punishment of the people as a group, is fighting it the thing to do?
What about Joseph? His captivity led to the salvation of many.
Look at Jesus. He didn’t resist arrest. It was part of the overall plan of salvation. He walked that path willingly for each of us. He was thinking like the hero He is. Like the heroes on the Flight 93, He acted for the sakes of the larger group outside the plane…the greater good. But, is it the same sort of group dynamics?
Did every passenger on the plane want to die right then and in that way, for the same cause?
Jesus acted alone on behalf of the threatened group. He died alone so that we might live.
Had each of the plane passengers had the time and ability to vote on what to do, what would have happened?
How would I have voted?
Would I have joined in the effort to thwart the enemy’s plan?
As a Christian, in any setting, aren’t I faced with that vote every day? Wasn’t I faced with that vote when called to follow Him in the first place? I knew the risks. I know the risks. Father, help me to choose well.