This one is for all those who have felt the stinging pain of peer pressure. For anybody who’s ever felt pressured to be a jerk, join the crowd, or lower their expectations to gain a peer’s approval. For those who feel out of place when they don’t do the wrong things other people do. For those who don’t want to give in to the endless race to be more “popular” or “cool” than the other guy. For those who are tired of not being satisfied with how they appear to others, and want to live at peace in their own skin. Is anyone else sick of this mindless pursuit of reputation? Let’s follow the example set by our Lord and Savior for how to live, and not what our friends think of us. Let’s storm Satan’s gates with the meekness and power of Christ!
Peer pressure is a horrible influence on the minds of our young Christian generation today (See my post: “Peer Pressure“). Teens are daily challenged by their “Christian” friends to stray from God’s path. For example, everyone nowadays has had a “You tough enough?” experience, right? Not just guys, but girls too. It usually happens when one of your peers says something to you like this: “I’m so glad my parents aren’t chaperoning at this party. They said they were at first, but yesterday they told me they decided not to. I was so relieved!” Now think about this. What do you say to him or her? You have three main choices:
1. Say something that’ll show them you’re “tough enough” to not need or want your parents at a party, like:
“Oh, man! That would’ve been terrible!”
2. Stand against this mockery of our loving parents God gave us, and say something like:
“Hey, don’t talk about your parents like that! They love you, and don’t want you to get in trouble.”
3. Say nothing.
If you go with number one, you’ll likely remain acceptable to this peer and get a nudge on the shoulder or a good laugh. Sure, you’d be disrespecting the parents God put in our lives, but they’ll never know, right? If you go with number two, you’ll probably get a strange look from them and maybe even be accused of “preaching” at them. This would ruin your popularity for at least a good 2 weeks. If you go with number three, they won’t take notice of you, but they won’t reject you either. You’d be avoiding troublesome talk without “pointing fingers,” but your peer would never know if you really do love and want to stand up for your parents. Which would you choose?
Sadly, I believe that many in our generation would go directly for choice number one. And not just the unbelievers of our generation, but many Christians too! It’s ridiculous how badly we talk about our authorities and parents in our “Christian” circles today. We disrespect them behind their back, which we all know is completely wrong! Fellow Christians of this generation, let us rise up against the dishonor that so many Christians display toward their leaders, and let us set a new bar of passion to serve those who Christ put in place to give us direction and guidance.
The second choice is definitely the hardest. This will ruin your reputation and your “coolness” very fast. But we must remember that Jesus was never “cool.” He was hated for saying the right things. He was murdered, and He did everything completely in accordance with what His Father was pleased with. The entire reason for life is not to be “cool,” but to serve our King! Number two is almost unheard of in today’s world, but we as Christians represent our God who was ridiculed for being perfect, and we must never sacrifice our devotion to His principles for the sake of “being cool.” Also, the benefits of obeying God are amazing! It strengthens our faith to stand up for our Lord. We also receive rewards in heaven when we obey our Lord, and we do well to store them up. (See Matt. 6:19-21, 1 Sam. 26:23, and Hebrews 11:6.) Believe me, it’ll all be worth it when we get to heaven. I mean, think about it. How does a short lifetime of appearing “cool” compare with being pleasing in God’s eyes for eternity? It doesn’t!
Being Quiet VS. Getting Angry
The third choice is a difficult one. Many times in life, it is best to just be quiet. There are situations in which saying something will cause ungodly and unnecessary conflict that will only lead to pain. Some give the saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” This is a great saying, but it misses the point when it comes to Christianity. God tells us to love our enemies, forgive others, and spread the joy of our God, but he does not tell us to be nice all the time. I’m sure you remember Jesus healing lepers and casting out horrifying demons, but do you remember the time when he made a whip and drove all the salesmen out of the temple?
And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” – Matthew 21:12-13
This is Jesus proclaiming the Truth. He wants His temple cleansed, and that’s what He’ll get! He’s God, He gets what He wants, and He is just and right to do so. “But he got angry!” we say. So He did. We are to follow His example, and that means that if there is evil happening, sometimes we should be angered over the wrong taking place. I agree, anger is dangerous (James 1:19-21), but anger is not evil. It’s only sin when it’s handled incorrectly.
“In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry – Ephesians 4:26 (NIV)
It depends on the situation, but there are times when anger is perfectly fine, but must be controlled. Therefore, I will say that choice number three is not always best. Sometimes we should take a stand for what’s right, and if silence prevents that, then away with it! I do understand, however, that silence is the proper way to handle some of these offences to God’s teachings. Jesus stood silent while the crowd jeered at Him as He was about to be hung upon a cross. If this guy I talked about earlier who insulted his parents is a struggling Christian who needs counsel, then maybe you should talk to him privately with a soft voice of rebuke and advice. If, however, this is a blatant mocker in God’s eyes, maybe a stern reply of “Hey, that’s not right!” would be good. It all depends on the situation. Sometimes getting angry is obviously wrong, but I just want to make it clear that being nice or “letting it go” is NOT always the answer when faced with a dirty joke or a disrespectful comment, and sometimes a little anger at the wrong taking place is the answer.
So what will you do next time someone insults your Lord? What will you say when your God-given parents are being talked of disrespectfully behind their backs? Will you go with the crowd and chose number one, or will you take a stand for Truth and speak up? Will you remain silent if it is appropriate to do so? I’ve been in this situation, and at different times I picked all three choices. I’m ashamed that I’ve chosen number one before, but I am reminded of God’s work in my life when I stand for my Lord and choose number two. I’ve also just been quiet, and there have been times when it was a good choice and others when it was a wimpy choice. Next time you run across “the choice” I would advise you to remember this little cliché that I’m sure we’re all familiar with: “What would Jesus do?” If Jesus was faced with what you’re dealing with, what would He chose? Would He remain silent and turn the other cheek? Would He stand up for His Father in heaven? Always go with what God would choose. Don’t let unrighteous anger toward your friend or fear of your peers influence your response, but reply only with God’s best. He will never fail you.