Psalm 109:1–7; John 5:41–47; Acts 18:9–18 (read online ⧉)
Tar and feathering is a few hundred years old. They did not really use tar (usually), but other sticky substances. It also was not just feathers, but other garbage that people tossed at those being cast out.
Today we use this phrase to convey a sense of a person who is overreaching, exaggerating, dangerous, annoying, or simply wrong (we think). “Tar and feather ‘em” is usually applied to politicians and salespeople (definitely from the era of traveling door-to-door salesmen). Oddly, in the internet age, it seems to have grown in popularity as a phrase, and certainly has been fulfilled with social media.
In the current culture and environment (and whether it is deserved or not), sharing the Gospel may incur the tar-and-feathering visceral reaction to a significant. Paul was goaded and encouraged by God to continue to preach the Gospel. So, Paul was obedient and did so.
The Jews were riled up. They brought Paul to the Roman Tribunal. They likely brought Paul to the tribunal with the excuse that Paul was riling them up (i.e., encouraging a riot, a big Roman no-no). However, the proconsul did not buy it, and apparently was not impressed with whatever eloquence (if any) the Jews had.
After being “defeated”, the Jews turned their rage and/or embarrassment against the man that likely lead them. They beat him. Tar and feathering him might have been kinder. They were so upset that they likely did something they would not have normally done, especially to their religious leader.
When a mob mentality strikes, people who are normally rational and considerate toward other people behave in ways that are not normal. Some excuse this as “herd” mentality. Others believe that it is more a form of “permission” to behave in an anti-social way with minimal consequences or to be anonymous in one’s bad behavior.
The internet can be seen as an instigator of mob mentality. It really is more of a tool to make it somewhat easier. However, with the advent of the social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) the anonymity of the internet is beginning to fade. Through social media, we can see who is part of another’s social network. In other words, escaping the consequences of bad behavior may begin to fade.
However, the biggest attractions of the internet and social media is the glory. That may well have been Gallio’s fault, too. He wanted to “get” Paul and stirred up the people to do so. We can fall prey to this, too, and try to get people to pay attention to us for our glory. Instead we ought to take the internet as a tool to point people to God, so that God gets the glory.
※ Prayer ※
Jesus, teach us to follow your example to point people to God, and to give God the glory. Holy Spirit, shape us and guide us to greater humility, letting ourselves be only the ones that point the way. Amen.
※ Questions ※
1) What are instances you can think of where people sought their own glory, especially to their detriment?
2) Have you ever succumbed to a mob mentality, whether in person, on the internet, or even within your social circles?
3) What are ways you have seen Christians succumb to mob mentality to non-Christians? How about Christians?