Sometime early in the first century, a Jew named Theudas had a message. With this message, he managed to gather around 400 followers. Declaring himself a prophet, he led his people to the river Jordan and promised them he would part it with a word, and that they would walk across on dry ground. On the way there, Roman cavalry beheaded him and the followers dispersed. A similar situation happened around a few decades earlier when a political activist from a group known as “the Zealots” convinced a small following not to pay their taxes or submit to human authorities. At the time, the Romans were sending foreign bureaucrats, assessors, to calculate how much Jewish estates were worth for tax purposes. This Zealot, Judas, a Galilean, was crucified along with his sons, and his followers dispersed.
Sometimes, these movements fizzle out and don’t accomplish much. Other times, such people become martyrs, and causes are rallied through the unjust death of a political voice. You don’t really know what exactly will happen until you cut off the movement’s head. Then, do several more heads grow back in its place, or does it dry up and die?
A member of the Jewish ruling body after these events said of another similar issue “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown…” (Acts 5:38). This leader knew that people generally have a knack for sniffing out deception (even if they don’t know how to find the truth), and suppressing opposition is generally a sign that something stinky is happening. The followers will leave if the movement doesn’t have any steam in it.
“Cancel Culture”, as it is so-called, might not be fair, right, or done in good faith, but it is also how the world works when it hears something it doesn’t like. But just because something is being “canceled” doesn’t mean it’s worth our attention either. The historian Josephus noted something important that the Christian should hear. Of Theudas and Judas, he said, “such men deceived and deluded the people under pretense of divine inspiration, but were for procuring innovations and changes of the government; and these prevailed with the multitude to act like madmen, and went before them into the wilderness, as pretending that God would there show them the signals of liberty.” Promising liberty by political means is not at all what we should be doing (2 Pet. 2:17-22). On the other hand, the contemporary Jewish leader also said “…but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.” And the disciples of Christ who were getting cancelled were happy to have the opportunity (Acts 5:40-42).