Life Enrichment through the BIBLE … Session 4: Peer Pressure
We must have all felt it—
We may not notice it at first, but slowly we feel pushed, by others, to do something we realise we shouldn’t or don’t want to do. At this point, we might RESIST it.
Or maybe we GO ALONG with it.
Either way, we feel the PRESSURE because these people are CLOSE to us—walking the SAME ROAD as us.
Our PEERS are our:
And because of this, many of our thoughts, feelings and decisions will SYNCHRONISE.
But not all of them. We are all INDIVIDUALS and so we are bound to differ in some things, and that is when the TOGETHERNESS that PEERS generally feel, suddenly FALLS APART—and we find ourselves at odds with our FELLOWS.
We probably feel QUITE ALONE.
It feels like there is only US on one side and ALL OF THEM on the other.
It is far EASIER to ‘go with the flow’ rather than go ‘against the current’.
What should we DO?
Maybe this depends on whether it is worth the effort—How strongly do we NOT want to do what is on course for action?
Might there be ANYONE ELSE who thinks the same as us?
This would help ENORMOUSLY, relieving any doubt we may be having about our decision, and doubling our power …… but FINDING OUT is such a RISK! A step into the unknown and possibly towards RIDICULE and REJECTION by ALL.
The pressure is on!
But PEER PRESSURE is nothing new! People suffered from it in Bible times. Let’s look at some examples!
The CHOICES people made THEN can ENCOURAGE us NOW, and their STRATEGIES to COPE might be ones WE can take on board!
AARON (Exodus 32)
Aaron was co-leader of the nation of Israel as they travelled from Egypt towards the ‘Promised Land’.
So when Moses (the other leader) disappeared up Mount Sinai (a kind of volcano) for more than a month, the people gave up on him ever returning. They surrounded Aaron DEMANDING that he make them a REPLACEMENT ‘God’ to lead them onwards. There were 1,000s of them …. And Aaron CAVED.
But when Moses suddenly returned, Aaron was embarrassed and made out it happened accidentally(!)
Moses had to go back up the mountain. THIS time, Aaron and the others waited patiently. They had LEARNT from their mistake, and so can WE from ours!
PETER (Galatians 2 and Acts 15)
Having already denied Jesus because of peer pressure, and been forgiven for it, Peter became a strong preacher of the Gospel. But then he was TESTED again by FALSE Christians infiltrating the Church. Peter was afraid of this divisive group and went along with them. But Paul, who had stood up to these FALSE Christians now confronted Peter to correct HIM. The Church was hugely mouldable in these early years, and WE should be MOULDABLE too! It is good to LISTEN to the advice and correction of others. Acts 15 tells us that the Church had a long and honest discussion, sorted out what they should do, and ended up STRONGER and CLOSER knit.
Seems like if you CAVE to PEER PRESSURE you are QUITE NORMAL!
But the Bible ALSO introduces us to some INSPIRING people who did NOT cave!
JOSHUA and CALEB (Numbers 13)
12 men went to SPY OUT the land God was giving to Israel. When they came back, they ALL said the land was GREAT. But 10 of them said: “We CAN’T take the land! The people are MUCH stronger than we are!” Only Joshua and Caleb BELIEVED God was powerful enough to ENABLE them to take the land. The whole community wanted to KILL them!
So what was it that kept them STRONG together?
DAVID (1 Samuel 24 and 26)
King Saul wanted to kill David. And TWICE, David found himself in a position where HE could have killed SAUL! David’s men URGED him to do so, saying God must want him to. But David refused to kill God’s appointed King. David had to go against his FEELINGS to follow his CONSCIENCE.
But what was it that fuelled this STRONG CONSCIENCE?
MICAIAH the prophet (1 Kings 22)
There were 400 FALSE prophets telling Ahab what he wanted to hear. Micaiah was told to agree with them. But he stuck to what he knew was the TRUTH and got thrown into prison.
What made him so sure he was right?
NEHEMIAH (Nehemiah 4—6)
Nehemiah was trying to rebuild Jerusalem. Sanballat first ridiculed, then plotted to attack, then threatened to fight the builders. Nehemiah PRAYED to God AND set up a protection guard so they could keep on building. Why?
DANIEL (Daniel 1)
Daniel resolved not to eat royal Babylonian food because it went against Jewish laws. What made Daniel so STRONG?
The thing about PEER PRESSURE is the RATIO: MANY against ONE … or so it feels.
In these instances, HOW did our ‘NON-CAVERS’ manage to stand up against the MANY?
Maybe it was because they BELIEVED they were NOT ALONE!
They had a MASSIVE invisible power with them, much, much bigger than even the 600,000 Israelites that wanted to kill Joshua and Caleb!
Standing up for something that GOD teaches means that GOD stands there with you. And:
‘If GOD is FOR us, WHO can be AGAINST us?’ (Romans 8 v 31)
If we met God, his power would frizzle us up.
So God uses an INTERFACE to interact with humans.
God works through ANGELS. When people see Angels, they are seeing the ‘Face’ of God.
There is a story about HOW MANY angels are with God’s people. It is in 2 Kings 6:
A fierce army was surrounding the town where the prophet Elisha was. Elisha said to his frightened servant: “Don’t worry. There are more with us than with them.” Then he asked God: “Please open his eyes.” And the servant saw thousands and thousands of angels extending from round Elisha right out to the hills! – Many more than the army parked around the town.
This one story is very reassuring for believers in God.
But WHATEVER anyone is STANDING UP FOR, it’s good to VISUALISE that it’s NOT JUST YOU there.
It’s EVERYONE who thinks the SAME way as you—UNITED together — STANDING together.
You are definitely NOT ALONE.