Sunday, October 27, 2013

Peer Pressure: Not Just for Teens

Isaiah 51:7
Listen to me, you who know right from wrong, you who cherish my laws in your hearts.  Do not be afraid of people’s scorn, nor fear their insults.

Peer Pressure is a term that is mainly associated with teenagers.  Adolescence is a confusing time.  As one grows into adulthood, the knowledge of right and wrong is within, but when faced with certain situations, it can be difficult to live that out when in the minority.  Eventually, most people mature into adults who are able to think for themselves and do not depend on the approval of others as a basis of how to live.  I believe this is what God wants us to do also.  He wants us to be spiritually mature so that we depend on His word to see what is right and what is wrong, not what those around us think.

Sadly, I know many adults who continue to base their decisions on how they will be perceived by others, rather than having the confidence to stick to their beliefs of what is right and what is wrong.  One reason for this is that they don’t like conflict or confrontations.  The truth is that you will most likely be confronted. Unfortunately, the people who are trying to convince you to do something that you don’t believe is right, will be twice as loud as the opposing side.  Maybe that’s because they’ve figured out that bullying works, and in some twisted way, they have decided that it’s acceptable.

As an adult who chooses not to drink any alcoholic beverages, I can tell you that peer pressure and bullying isn’t just for teenagers.  I don’t understand why people get so worked up over it.  As long as the behavior doesn’t become destructive, I don’t care if they drink alcohol, so I never get why they get so upset when I don’t.  Just as a side note, there might be reasons that people choose not to participate in certain behavior that has nothing to do with you, such as medical reasons, family history of dependency, a commitment to stop the behavior, it doesn’t fit into their framework as being the right thing to do, and others.  And News Flash! Those reasons aren’t any of your business.

Choosing to do what is right will cost you.  There may not be any monetary cost, but there is almost always a cost in popularity and acceptance.  It takes a lot of self-confidence to step out in faith, especially when it comes to telling others about Christ and what He did for us.  Being scorned and insulted is never enjoyable.  It’s human nature to want to be liked by people, and God wants us to have relationships while we are here, so I don’t believe we are supposed to curl ourselves up in a world that is totally permeated by Christian culture either.  We are supposed to let our light shine in a dark world, not just reflect off of others who share that light. It’s easy to talk to others about Jesus when we share the same beliefs.   It’s not so easy when they don’t.  Having said that, we have been commissioned to go out there and tell people about the gospel.  God is a necessary part of that equation.  He is the one who prepares a heart to hear the gospel.  He uses us to do His work, but ultimately He is doing the work within the hearts and souls of other people.

How can we know if someone is ready to hear it?   Kathy shares the following, “I have decided to start my day with these words, ‘I will only do and say what you want me to.  I will only walk where you want me to walk.  Just lead me.’”  Those are wise words and a great way to start any day.

How to Stand Firm:
  • ·         Know God’s word and know what He says is right, and what He says is wrong.  That’s where the basis of our framework should come from.  Don’t take anybody else’s word for it.  Spend 10 minutes per day in your Bible while asking God to show you what He wants you to see in His word. 
  • ·         Stand strong in your beliefs, and gather a support system of people who will encourage you and help you see the truth when you’re under pressure. 
  • ·         Plant seeds of faith by living your life reflecting Christ, and pray that God will open hearts to receive Him.  Be patient and don’t give up.
  • ·         When you’re feeling down and outcast, remind yourself of what Christ went through for you.  There is no comparison.

Passages to Ponder:
Galatians 1:10  Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God.  If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.

Exodus 23:2  You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong.  When you are called to testify in a dispute, do not be swayed by the crowd to twist justice.

Romans 12:2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Contributors:  Karen Bromby, Kathy Derda and Kim McClure

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