Sermon: Bystander Effect
Scripture: Genesis 11 / Exodus 32
ICE BREAKER: What was a unique family tradition you had growing up that not many other families had?
This week we looked at two stories in the Jewish Scriptures, The Tower of Babel and the Golden Calf. In both instances we were able to see the Bystander Effect at work.
The Bystander Effect says:
The more people who witness an event, the less likely any 1 individual responds to it.
This was most famously demonstrated in the murder of Kitty Genovese. She was slowly attacked and killed while 38 people looked on and NO ONE called 911. This happens mainly because of two factors.
The first is DIFFUSION OF RESPONSIBILITY. The more people present at an event seems to "spread out" the responsibility across all parties - making it feel as if you bear a smaller amount of weight for what is happening.
The second aspect of Bystander Effect is SOCIAL MIRRORING. This is basically "monkey see, monkey do." We monitor the behavior of the people around us and use their actions as the CUE for what our actions should be. If they aren't calling 911, maybe we shouldn't either!
Have you ever experienced, or played a part, in Diffusion of Responsibility or Social Mirroring? (spoiler alert - YOU HAVE!)
How easy is it to go along with a group, even if it feels like you should behave differently?
At the Tower of Babel, the people were in rebellion against God. They were mandated to spread out over the earth and, instead, chose to build a tower and stay in one place. Everyone participated in the building even though every individual had the responsibility to follow God's order. Instead of accepting the full weight of their charge, Responsibility was DIFFUSED across all people.
When the people of Israel built the golden calf, they KNEW it was wrong! God had already given them the 10 commandments. They had seen mights works from the Lord and He had demonstrated his power over the false gods and idols. STILL, they built the golden calf and worshipped it. Each person followed the other in this wicked practice! Monkey see, monkey do! Social Mirroring cost that generation of Israelites access to the land of Promise and their full potential.
You were NOT meant to be a Bystander!!
God has given you a purpose and has equipped you with what you need to get started pursuing it. He has also created us ABLE to RESPOND to Himself. That means you are RESPONSIBLE. It is time for God's people to feel the full weight of the life we have been called to live. No more diffusing responsibility to those you think are bigger or brighter or better equipped!
God has made you unique! You are not meant to just follow the crowd. The people around you are not meant to be your mirror - God is!
What is ONE WAY you will quit being a Bystander this week?
The world around you is not going to make the proper sacrifices OR orient their lives to the Highest Possible Good. If you just simply go along with the crowd it will lead you further and further from the life you have been called to live!
The Bystander Effect is a trap we all fall into from time to time. Spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to show you the areas where you are allowing those around you to influence you. Ask God for strength and find courage in Jesus to accept the responsibility you have been given and to follow hard after your purpose.