Have you ever wondered why you do some of the things you do? It may be simply because of what you think others will think of you! You and I could wish that we were impervious to this pressure in our lives, but we are not. Our challenge is to find our identity in our relationship with Jesus rather than in our relationship with others.
The Bible reminds us that there is good and bad peer pressure in each of our lives. The good is illuminated through verses like this one. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works,” (Hebrews 10:24) We are reminded that our relationships with others can be an invaluable blessing to others. But the opposite is also true. We are reminded in Proverbs “The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe.” (Proverbs 29:25) We are then reminded that our relationship with others can be a form of self bondage. It reminds that peer pressure can restrict us from being whom God wants us to be.
We are all vulnerable to this negative form of peer pressure. It is a hidden threat. And here is the problem; we often fail to realize that we do things simply to gain the approval of others. And this is the trap where we voluntarily surrender to be taken hostage. I have noticed two forms of negative peer pressure, real and perceived. The real peer pressure is obvious. We can put a name and a face on the source of this pressure to conform. It could be a parent, a friend, a coworker or whoever. The other is more subtle but just as dangerous. It is when we perceive that we have to do something or be something to please another person. It is not real but perceived.
The truth is our vulnerability to peer pressure grows out of our own insecurities. We desire the approval of others as a way to prove our value, worth and significance. Our insecurities can be the result of the negative influence of someone that we look up to. They can also be the result of comparing ourselves to others. What is sad, is that those harsh comments and negativity actually come from people who themselves are insecure.
So what should be the Christian’s response? The solution is to find our identity in Jesus Christ. It begins by beginning to grasp what it means to be loved by God. We also need to become proficient at identifying and recounting all the different ways that God’s has blessed us. For instance, take time to ponder the realities of being adopted into His family. When we come to grasp that we are loved unconditionally by God it really does not matter what others think.
The best help I can give you to standing against peer pressure is to control the influences in your life. One of the best practices is to get into God’s Word regularly. It will remind you of what you have in Christ rather than what you don’t have. Also don’t allow yourself to be compared to others. It could be comparing how you think you look, your accomplishments, your kids, your job, and your stuff. Don’t fall into the trap of comparison. Also make a point to celebrate who you are in Christ and God’s blessing in your life. Let me suggest that instead of sinking in the quicksand of social media that you stand on the rock of God’s Word.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson