Peer Pressure

           Peer pressure, we all had to deal with it while we were children but now that we are adults we have outgrown it, right? Maybe not! Consider this; Peer pressure is to allow the influence exerted by a peer to encourage you to change your values, attitudes or behavior in order to conform to the norm.

          The greatest example I have found is on the highway. In most states the speed limit is 65mph, but there is also a so called unwritten exception. This exception states it is acceptable to go over the speed limit by 6 or 7mph. Why? Because everyone else does it and the Police expect it.

          Driving the posted speed limit will get a number of drivers riding your tail, flashing their lights trying to get you to go as fast as they want to go. PEER PRESSURE! By their constant pressing they are encouraging you to change values or behavior to get you to conform to their speeding norm.

          You might think peer pressure is a fairly new issue in life, but it has really being going on since the beginning. Satan pressured the Angels into following him, Eve pressured Adam into eating the fruit, and we continually have pressures trying to get us to follow the norm.

          The unique thing about this kind of pressure is, its design is always to get us to deviate from God’s plan.

          Take for example Adam and Eve. God told Adam His plan, how they were to live in the garden, cultivate it and keep it. Allowing them to eat of any tree they wanted, except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam told Eve the plan of God, and one of them even added a precaution by saying, “Don’t even touch it lest you die.” Then the Devil comes along and deceives Eve into eating of the tree and she gave to Adam and he ate also.

          Make no mistake Adam was not deceived, he was pressured. 1 Timothy 2:14 says, “And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being quite deceived, fell into transgression.” Adam knew the plan but allowed Eve to pressure him in to changing his values, attitudes and behavior.

          The Devil tried to use one of Jesus’ closest friends to get Him to deviate from God’s plan. In Matthew 16:21-23, Jesus had begun to show the disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders, the chief priest, and the scribes and be killed and raised up on the third day. Peter said to Him, “God forbid it, this shall never happen to you.”  Jesus turned away and said, “Get behind Me Satan, you are a stumbling block to Me, you’re not setting your mind on God’s interests but man’s.”

          Jesus knew God’s plan for His life, the cross, and as hard as that plan was, He was resolute and fixed to accomplish the plan to the end.

          Some interesting actions Jesus took to defeat the peer pressure can also be used by us.

First He turned away, to many times when faced with peer pressure we embrace it by giving attention to it, instead of turning away. 1 Peter 3:11 says to turn away from evil and do good. Also in Luke 9:51 it says Jesus set His face to go to Jerusalem. To set His face meant He did not allow anything to detour Him from accomplishing His goal.

          Second, Jesus recognized where the pressure was really from. He knew Peter was only the instrument of the Devil’s schemes. Jesus was always watching for the Devil to come back. In Matthew 26:41 He said “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” We generally think this scripture was meant for us alone, but for Jesus to have said it, meant He lived it. He was always watching and praying so He would not enter into temptation and when the Devil showed up He spotted it right away.

          Third, He not only recognized where the pressure was coming from but also what the real temptation was, saying you’re not setting your mind on God’s interests but man’s. One of the ways the Devil gets a foothold into our life, is by getting us to stop thinking about God and think about ourselves. Jesus was quick to realize the Devils attempt to get Him to focus on the reality of the cross and suffering.

          For us, the lesson we can take from Jesus’ example is to keep watching and praying. When you recognize the pressure, turn away, knowing that it is designed to keep you from completing God’s will.

          I recently heard a statement that really makes me think, “Become one who turns the wind, not one who is turned by the wind.”    

          Father, help us not to fall into peer pressure but to decide right now to turn away and do good. In the name of Jesus, amen