By S. Michael Houdmann, Got Questions Ministries
Why do we face peer pressure? The Bible clearly tells us that we should not expect our lives to look like the lives of other people (unbelievers) in this world. As Christians, we are aliens and strangers here on earth (1 Peter 2:11), and this world is not our home. Just as Christ was rejected-and still is-by so many who want to live life their own, ungodly way, we will also find the same types of people despising us for our faith.
In the first chapter of 1 Thessalonians, Paul speaks of how we are to know we are Christians. One of the points he emphasizes (see verse 6) is the fact that we should have joy despite suffering. We should expect to encounter trials and persecution as Christians, yet be comforted with the fact that God is in control and will repay any wrongs that are committed against us. In 2 Thessalonians, Paul talks about the troubles this church was continuing to face. He told them that when Christ returns and God judges the world, God “will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well” (1:6-7). Although many Christians will never face suffering as extreme as the Thessalonians did, or even those living in modern-day Sudan who are killed for their faith, we still suffer in smaller ways, such as the torture of peer pressure.
What does the Bible say about dealing with peer pressure? The Bible never uses the words “peer pressure,” but it does tell us how we should deal with the many trials we will face in our lives, especially those involving unbelievers.Romans 12:2says, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:14-16says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.”
1 Peter 1:13-21says, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.”
The Bible also tells us that we can trust that God will work all things together for the good of His children (Romans 8:28). However, the Bible does not promise us an easy life, but a life that glorifies God as we learn lessons that are difficult and overcome attacks from Satan that would be impossible to overcome without God. We are being “conformed to the likeness of [Christ]” as God changes us through all our life (Romans 8:29-30). Be comforted that Christ Himself was tempted in every way we have been; He understands how difficult it is. Yet, the Bible promises us that God will provide a way of escape from every trial (1 Corinthians 10:13). Put your complete trust and faith in God. Let Him alone be your strength (Philippians 4:13) and your guide (Psalm 23).
Peer pressure will be a fleeting thing in our lives. Peer pressure is largely about insecurity and a desire for acceptance for all involved. Most people eventually realize that intimidating others to feel important is manipulative and immature. Those who have been followers will usually realize it is more important to make their own decisions and be their own person than to be controlled by someone else. We must not give in to peer pressure, whatever the situation. Standing up for what we believe and what the Bible teaches will please God. Throughout history, those who have been unafraid to stand on unpopular beliefs have been the ones to change the world and make things happen. There is so much in this world that we need to change, and so many people who need to be told about Christ. Letting other people decide what we do and how we behave is exactly what Satan hopes we will do; if we never stand up for what is right because of peer pressure, we are actually standing up for what is wrong.