Following the majority is always the easy thing to do, especially when it happens to be what you want to do. But it’s not always right. And that’s what the centurion in charge of taking Paul (and the other prisoners) to Rome learned in this chapter.
Because of weather conditions, they were making much slower headway than they had hoped, but Paul knew that the weather would only get worse. So he warned them,
Men, I can see that our voyage is going to be disastrous and bring great loss to ship and cargo, and to our own lives also. (10)
Whether this was direct revelation or insight from God, or merely Paul’s own sailing experience is not clear. What is clear is that the centurion didn’t want to wait. And after consulting with the pilot and the owner of the ship, the “majority” decided it would be best to sail on and winter at another harbor.
Why didn’t they listen to Paul? For one thing, they probably figured he wasn’t a sailor, and they trusted their own judgment over his. For another, they were impatient. They had lost time and probably wanted to make up for it.
But by following the “majority,” it nearly cost them their lives.
How about you? Do you follow what God is telling you, or do you simply follow the majority? Sometimes, we follow the majority in terms of peer pressure. Everyone is doing something we know is wrong, and it’s hard to go against the grain. Sometimes we follow the majority in terms of culture. I see this often times in Japan where Christians will compromise their faith at Buddhist ceremonies for the sake of “culture.”
But just because you’re following the majority does not make you right. And there are times when it puts you at odds with what God is telling you to do. And not only can that lead to disastrous consequences, those decisions also pain God. Paul tells us,
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)
When we follow the majority at the expense of turning our backs on what God has said, that’s exactly what we end up doing: grieving God.
Who are you following?