It is human to stand with the crowd; it is divine to stand alone. It is man-like to follow the people, to drift with the tide; it is God-like to follow a principle, to stem the tide. It is natural to compromise conscience and follow the social and religious fashion for the sake of gain or pleasure; it is divine to sacrifice both on the altar of truth and duty. “No man stood with me, but all men forsook me,” wrote the battle-scarred apostle in describing his first appearance before Nero to answer for his life for believing and teaching contrary to the Roman world. Truth has been out of fashion since man changed his robe of fadeless light for a garment of faded leaves.
Noah built and voyaged alone. His neighbors laughed at his strangeness and perished in style. Abraham wandered and worshiped alone. Sodomites smiled at the simple shepherd, followed the fashion, and fed the flames. Daniel dined and prayed alone. Elijah sacrificed and witnessed alone. Jeremiah prophesied and wept alone. Jesus loved and died alone. And of the lonely way His disciples should walk, He said, “Strait is the Gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Of their treatment by the many who walk in the broad way, He said, “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world … therefore the world hateth you.”
The Church in the wilderness praised Abraham and persecuted Moses. The Church of the Kings praised Moses and persecuted the prophets. The Church of Caiaphas praised the prophets and persecuted Jesus. The Church of the Popes praised the Savior and persecuted the saints. And multitudes now, both in the Church and in the world, applaud the courage and fortitude of the patriarchs and prophets, the apostles and martyrs, but condemn as stubbornness or foolishness like faithfulness to truth today.
-- John Lavier (1906-2005)