Mark 3:20-22 Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘‘He is out of his mind.’’ And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘‘He is possessed by Beelzebub! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’’
Jesus was so radical and so consumed with his purpose that his own family thought that he had ‘‘gone off the deep end.’’ Jesus’ mother, his younger brothers (James, Joseph, Judas and Simon) and his sisters were so concerned by the news of what Jesus was doing and how he was ‘‘making a spectacle of himself’’ that they felt compelled to come and forcibly take him home. What could have led them to such a wrong assessment of the situation? First of all, they weren’t following Jesus or even listening to his teachings themselves; they only heard things second hand. Secondly, they truly loved him and were convinced that he was hurting himself. Imagine how you would feel if your son or brother was so consumed with some activity that he wasn’t even eating.
Similarly, when the teachers of the law saw how Jesus was acting and observed the furor that he caused among the people, they thought he must have been filled with the most evil of evil spirits. Jesus was completely uninhibited, and he lived his life and pursued his goals
with such intensity that people were taken aback. Jesus didn’t conform to socially acceptable levels of zeal, enthusiasm, and single-mindedness. His intensity they could only compare with the driven quality of those who were out of their mind or those who were possessed by evil spirits.
Extraordinary levels of intensity and commitment in an individual’s life are commonly perceived by the general public as characteristic of fanaticism or an obsession.
Fanaticism seems to be politically correct only when the person is involved in athletics, the military or making money. In the same way, groups of people who are extremely committed to a particular cause are often shunned by the mainstream of today’s society. A religious organization which expects a high level of commitment from each of its members is often called a cult. Consequently, people who are trying to have an impact should not be surprised if they are called fanatics, if other people think they are obsessed with their purpose, or if their group is labeled a cult. These are all good signs that they are achieving something unique; they should be encouraged to press onward.
Jesus told people to: ‘‘Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’’ Throughout the Bible, God makes it clear that he only accepts those who leave the broad path of socially acceptable religion and choose the narrow path of exceptional faith. And yet from before Jesus’ day until now societies which have accepted the Bible in some sense have also actively discouraged and condemned those who dare to break free from the pack. Surely this is because the lives of the truly-committed followers of God expose the mediocrity and complacency of those who are a part of the religious establishment.
The business establishment similarly renounces many of its mavericks who brashly attempt to better or change the status quo—at least until they succeed, at which point a new broad path is trampled down by hordes of imitators, envious of the maverick’s achievements.
Are we willing to throw off our inhibitions, to care less about what people think of us, to break out of the mold and radically and single-mindedly pursue our goals? Such is one mark of a man or woman of impact.