Do we ever out-grow “little” lessons?
Example: When we are young we are encouraged not to give into peer-pressure. Most of us can remember something that invited some person or some influence to encourage us not to give into this spirit that seeks to please ourselves by giving into people around us or to go against the pressure to do things like “everybody else” because we don’t want to be so different or ridiculed.
The lessons of youth has many faces. But what does it look like in the “adult world”? No much different really if we think about it. The voices of those who pressure us have the exact same ring at thirty and older as thirty and younger.
“Come ooonnnn! You gotta come out and hang with us/me at least here or there! You don’t have to do such and such just come be part of me doing it”
Or inner responses don’t change their tune much either.
“Well… maybe I’ll just go and x (fill in the blank). It won’t hurt if I don’t do what they do and just hang out with them. I can control myself and maybe I’ll even be setting a good example to them too.”
Yep. .. exactly the same from five years old to ninety five. There’s the choice to do what God says, exactly the way He says to do it or to revamp and revise what He says with our own way of rationalizing. In fact, the older we get the more in danger we become to this conundrum. Why? Because the older we are the more we think we know and apply what we know to what to us can sound an awful lot like sound wisdom. At least when we’re young we can claim ignorance or naivety. Young or old though set-apart is set-apart. Going against the flow, standing out while convincing ourselves and trying to appear to others like we’re standing up. When we’re older we can feel more confident in ourselves because of areas we’ve gained ground over temptations. Whereas, when we’re young almost every temptation is fresh and new and a lesson to be learned.
God’s instruction to separate ourselves from even the appearance of evil is not meant to protect us like some back-boneless imp. It’s meant to protect everyone involved. Go back up and read the peer-presured lament. Particularly the last line.
“Just come be apart of me doing it.”
What our human ears hear (young or old) is: “hey, I like you. I want to be with you. It’s about relationship really.” Its a lie. Relationship is about honor, encouraging others to do the right and pure and good things, based on truth not fudging. What they are really saying is: “hey, I like you but you need to be more like me so when I’m with you I won’t feel the weight of the fact that I know I could be better than I am.” The motive comes from the pit of hell – quite unbeknownst to the pressurer. “God is no fun. Give in a little, then you’ll be liked more and accepted. Show how strong you are! You don’t need God to keep you set-apart! You can be set-apart using what God says but changing it up a bit. .. no need to be so religious and goody-two-shoe’d! God said ‘be in the world just not of it.’ So be in it, just do it your way. That’s just as separate as His way! Look at all the experience you have, all God has brought you through! Your love for Him will protect you. Your over-coming in this area and that area will give you strength this time.”
We do not know that the second we compromise this cancer called leprosy of the soul begins to make your heart a petri dish. We will buy a lie in exchange for God’s exact truth everytime we make revisions to it. We become numb to its subtle slip into a picture that corrodes both the peer and everyone we say we love; first and foremost God. The second we step into the pressure and give in we will not even feel where the slip begins. Because it begins under the auspices of “relationship” between us and another. The damage that will ensue will decay our real relationship with God and all those we claim to have one with. We can not go with someone to be a friend when the very going with them will encourage them to do what is harmful to them. That which is not right but wrong. No matter how restrained we may be we have just entered into relationship that is not relationship but a show encouragement to their destruction and potentially our own. We begin to doubt God and His reign begins to feel like rules and we will begin to question Him. Or perhaps there are those who encourage us in the Lord and we will begin to place them in a light makes them feel to us, like they put pressure on us and we will slowly pull away. Slowly, but surely peer-pressure given into (at any age) kills our ability to have true relationship and love with anyone. Because the first compromise of relationship happens with God. There is no relationship, true relationship; fulfilling, life-giving, love sustaining relationship with out Him who made the very substance of it. He does not and did not compromise with or for us; and never will. Not because He is rigid and a rule monger. But because He is right and true and the way He made all things to be the best they can be; is truly the way all things work to be the best they can be.
The one who designed a doorknob, designed the keyhole to have a specific key to be put into it in order for it to open. It can only be opened without that specific key by breaking it. Truth is about function not performance. With peer-pressure the temptation is always to challenge the heart of God’s love, not ours. Ours means nothing if we do not get it from Him.
Let’s look at where Yeshua (Jesus) experienced peer-pressure. Remember how often he was goaded to show people a sign? Go count them! Many many times. Do we think He didn’t feel like it? Do we doubt that He was tempted to just to prove He was who He said He was? Do we think that only the “bad guys” pressured Him and not those He loved? Did He at any time give in? No. Why? Because then He would not have so loved the world and every person before and after that moment would have been utterly lost. Because to do so would have been to not love His Father first and thereby be unloving to every single person He ever knew or would know. He loved those “bad guys” and He loved those followers who thought they knew what He should do to take over the Kingdom and rule and reign, those closest to Him who were as blinded by man’s limited view as the “bad guys”. Loving God’s ways instead of ourself, our feelings, and even more than others will always be the maximum potential of Love. We follow Yeshua’s example because it will be the ultimate good for ourselves and everyone we know every time. Always.
The next time you are goaded. Young or old. Remember! True relationship, friendship and love applies God’s ways to our own thoughts and actions first like a wall around our hearts for Him. And in so doing this; He makes sure that all those around us; whether they think well or ill of us (or we be tempted to think well or ill of ourselves because of them and their influence on us) never has the power to come between us and Him.
No. Peer-pressure is never out- grown because we must always come and become as little children. Never grown up so as to graduate from any evil that can corrupt our hearts before our Lord. Children and young ones have far less to fear with their limited experience in life. We adults will battle pride harder and harder as the years go by. Because we think “we’ve got this. Know that. Understand.” The second we think we have outgrown any lesson we become ingrown and will find ourselves without excuses that come with the advantage of youth. Be grafted in, not grown up! To the glory of God!
Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah