“In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.”
In regard to these
The “these” is the list of six values of the fast crowd of verse three.
they think it strange that you do not run with them
“They” here is the fast crowd of verse three, that is, those doing “the will of the Gentiles.”
“Run” means to run together with. Metaphorically it means to run a course of evil with others to be closely associated with them in a particular type of conduct. The fast crowd gathers together to live out the same values jointly. They get confidence from closely associating with each other. They justify what they do by mob thinking. The Devil’s crowd does not tolerate anyone out of harmony with their values.
The cults of Artemis and Demeter centered in Ephesus, and the cults of Dionysius and Cybele in Phrygia and Pergamum are illustrations of these kinds of mobs. Thus, mob psychology is destructive to Christian living.
The fast crowd depends on group influence, so they want us to run “with” them. They maintain their course of evil by peer pressure. If you are going to be “with it,” you must accept their extreme values.
It is surprising (“strange”) to the fast crowd that the Christian broke away from them. They cannot imagine any other value system other than their own. The fact that the Christian chooses polar opposite values to them blows apart their assumptions about life. The mob is so closed in its view of life that when one of their crowd makes a decision like this, it astonishes them. It seems so strange that a person would make this decision. It is a cause for wonder. They think you are crazy about leaving this party life. They wonder at this as something unusual. The Christian’s testimony gets their attention.
God wants the Christian to run the race of life independent from crowd psychology.
The mature Christian is free from mob thinking. But, unfortunately, many people feel secure in being herd bound. Those who find their security in the mob will malign the person who stands independent from the mob. They deem that independence as an assault on mob values.
We are no longer the puppets of men when we stand independent from the crowd. We no longer please men as our central value. When we live for and suffer for the Lord, we free ourselves from that kind of slavery.
If we live for the Lord, who ultimately will judge us, we free ourselves from living for men. Then, when mob pressure comes, we can peel off and break away from them.
What gives a person this independence? Maturity comes from applying the principles of Scripture to experience. As we learn enough of the Word, we become more independent from other influences in our lives.