– Don’t let the crowd pressure you, stand up for something or you’ll fall for anything.
“If only you will obey me , you will eat of the good things of the land” – Isaiah 1:19
Standing up to authority has never been easy. Even to divine authority, for that matter. But it so happens that, with the grace of God, just about anything is possible.
A couple of days ago, while I attended the First Holy Communion service, I couldn’t help but notice a bunch of immaculately dressed eight-nine year olds all eager to receive Jesus in their hearts for the very first time. At this auspicious moment, a thought-provoking question popped into my head: It’s been quite some time since the day we claimed the safe receipt of Jesus in our hearts, but actually accepting Him in to our hearts? That is something that clearly didn’t happen overnight.
It is indeed a daily renewal, a lifetime commitment- accepting Jesus’ undeniable yet unfathomable presence in our lives, shouldn’t, therefore, be misconstrued as succumbing to the tenets of a religion, but rather understood as the surrendering to His will.
Needless to say, we youth of today, face larger and far more serious issues of peer pressure than our ancestors ever did. And hence we are right to assume that they can never fully understand the weight of our issues.
Peer pressure, in my opinion, occurs when we fail to live up to God’s standards and look for lower “human” standards to satisfy ourselves. True enough, God’s standards are so high that he equates hatred to murder and lust to adultery! Yet in Romans 12:2 Paul instructs us not to be conformed to this world. In addition to this 1 John 2:15-17 also tells us to “Not love our Father over worldly things, because the latter shall pass away but those who submit to God, shall live forever” .
The saddest part is that the worse form of peer pressure is when we are not ready to accept that we are victims of the same. It so happens that we realize the seriousness of it only when we are looking at in the face. All sorts of addictions are linked to peer pressure -we succumb to these only because we seek greater comfort in human intentions rather than in divine authority. True enough, our culture presents itself today, as a powerful narcotic, but stronger are the youth who learn how to stay principled. It all just depends on who we are ready to pledge our allegiance to, and how we do so!
The Old Testament is a wonderful witness to cases when man favoured human will to God’s authority. Such as when Adam ate the forbidden fruit, Jonah refused to prophesize to the people of Nineveh; and when the Israelites brought out of slavery from Egypt, were denied entry to the Promised Land. God has in fact, promised us in 2 Peter 2: 9-10 that,”He shall rescue His people from trials and punish the wicked, for the Day of Judgment especially those who follow their filthy bodily lusts and despise God’s authority“. This is indeed why the Ten Commandments given to Moses are still very much relevant to us even today.
So with sheer faith, we can choose what to let peer pressure do to us. We can turn these negative influences around or simply run away from them (1 Cor 5:11). After all, the first step to winning the battle is to recognize the enemy. The more you’re worn out, the more Satan tempts you. Temptation to give in to peer pressure can happen to anyone and everyone–even the most level-headed of us, and that too, in the least expected form.
But when we keep Christ in control, rather than surrender to present adolescent traditions, we learn to think for ourselves in newer and more complete ways. In other words, we learn how to prioritize our actions and display raw courage that we had previously assumed, we weren’t capable of.
Peer pressure comes in the way of our call to Christ; and hence it is imperative to not let it master us; and seek only His approval. Our earthly life is too short to be ravaged by such influences! They can stain us like ink does to white paper. The only way –is to keep on guard and pray it out- a prayer to God to keep us strong while we are in moments of weakness; or when we have already fallen. A prayer to keep him first place, so that everything else falls in place. And a prayer to transform ourselves from fawning yes-men to dedicated fruit -bearing disciples.
“The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone “.-Acts 4:12