No-one can ever promise you an easy road when you are serious about forming and living your life as a Christ-like example. I find it is very obvious in the life of a child. In this time of their life they are still trying to find out who they are and added to this is the constant group pressure to be ‘in’ and to be part of something.
This week again one of my children came home wanting to join in some celebrations which we believe is not necessarily right from a biblical perspective. There was continuous nagging: “Mom, why can I not do it? EVERYONE else is, surely then it must be right?”, and added to this was the long face that goes with it. So much so that I started to think that I must give in just this once. That was until I thought again about the passage in Romans 12:2:
“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.” (The Message)
Here’s the thing. As much as our children are constantly being pressured to join and do things so that they can be part of something, I think we are in exactly the same boat, we are just playing the same game at a much higher level and we call it different names.
The day we become serious about our Christian belief we take a step out of this world and start our journey towards eternity. This means that we are going to have to make some decisions in our lives that goes against everyone else’s and we are going to have to be brave enough to stand fast on that decision not allowing group pressure (culture, society) to make us stumble. Is this going to be fun? Definitely not! In actual fact you may find that you are isolated in some way or another because you are not following the mainstream. Is it worth it? Definitely, considering that my focus is not on today anymore. It is now on tomorrow.
The only way you can become brave enough to make choices against the general flow of acceptance is when you
Know that you are making the right decision, and
You are not allowing yourself to stumble under group pressure
This needs two things:
It is increasingly difficult to get a clear guideline between right and wrong today, especially since most things can be debated that if it is not wrong then surely it must be allowed. Romans 12:2 however gives us the answer to this problem and it all comes down to spiritual discernment. Firstly we should not get so used to our culture that we do not question it and secondly we need to start relying on God. If we keep focussing on Him, he will give us spiritual discernment to recognise what is right and what is wrong. With Jesus’ ascension God gave us the Holy Spirit in his place as counsellor. Why not make use of this wonderful gift?
Knowing who you are
I believe that the only way to fight and resist group pressure is to know who and what you are. Not the image that you have build up about yourself through the broken glasses of the world, but rather through the eyes of God. It is when we truly believe that God accepts us for who we are, good and bad, that we can find rest with Him without having to prove ourselves the whole time.
To live in this world and not become part of it is a continuous struggle for all of us, but God has given us the necessary tools and assurances to face this struggle on a daily basis.
Rely not on yourself but on God to give you guidance,
Continuously focus on asking yourself if your actions is right in God’s eyes and
Believe that you are loved and accepted just as you are.