Mark 15:1-5, 15 Jesus is judged by Pontius Pilate
I learned about the Asch conformity experiment for the first time in a psychology class I took sophomore year. The major idea of the experiment is that a person will change their attitude or behavior on his/her own to fulfill social norms. Now, while I was watching the videos of the experiment I thought it was ridiculous. In my mind, I figured I would never, for example, say that a line of 5 inches was actually 7 inches when the proof was right in front of me. But honestly, I really don’t know what I would do in that position.
Conformity is more complex than just the desire to fit in. The desire is just as weighty as the fear of standing out. I remember my first semester at Pepperdine, even though I’d like not to. It was a struggle moving from my hometown where I was comfortable and wasn’t afraid to stand out, to this new environment where I didn’t want to stand out. It was less intimidating to try to be like everyone else than to try to be myself.
“When we recognize that our life performance is for an audience of one (God), we relinquish the desire to please everyone and begin to live.”
I came to this conclusion recently. And while it sounds like “er…duh!” it really is a hard thing to do. We live in a society based on the fundamental principle of people-pleasing. I mean, why would anyone want to be different?
I’ve read the passage of Jesus’ trial before Pilate enough times that I know the story by heart. There’s Jesus, the brave man of integrity, committed to his purpose and vision. And then there’s Pilate. Sigh! But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I see more of Pilate in myself. I have this mental picture of Pilate interrogating Jesus and then proceeding to severely afflicting his flesh, stroke after stroke. But even though he’s the one doing the afflicting, I can feel his pain. He would have given anything to have Jesus cave in and justify his punishment, but Jesus was unmoved. It cannot be an easy thing to live with. Who really wants to go to bed with a guilty conscience?
And in some way Jesus presents the antithesis of Pilate’s character. He endured ridicule and separation and was non-conforming to the point of the cross. That is the quintessential definition of nonconformity.
As a student, college is a really hard place to practice nonconformity. On one end, what makes you different could make you really awesome; on another end it could really make things bad. This reflection is supposed to be about Jesus’ journey, but I wonder that maybe we ought to think about the Pilate in ourselves, and the struggle for balance between doing what we believe is right and conforming to others’ beliefs.
Ibukun ‘IBK’ Jaiyeola is an Integrated Marketing Communication Senior at Pepperdine University. She is a lover of music and culture, lifelong student and change catalyst. IBK has written for YADA magazine and currently writes articles on the BOOST XYC (Xtian Youth Central) group on Facebook. Follow her on twitter @Ibukun_J