Peer Pressure!

For the time that is past suffices for doing what the Gentiles want to do, living in sensuality, passions, drunkenness, orgies, drinking parties, and lawless idolatry. With respect to this they are surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery, and they malign you;” (I Peter 4:3-4).

Peer pressure! Going along with crowd. Or as one youth leader once remarked, “If you run with skunks you’re going to smell like a skunk.” I Corinthians 15:33-34 says, “33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 34 Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.”

Prior to my conversion to Christ in October 1974, I associated with a group of people who attended the college I was attending. We were all aspiring writers and/or journalists. We worked on the school newspaper together, often attended the same classes, and sometimes got together to party. Alcohol was a predominant part of our after school get-togethers. I actively participated.

However, when I was converted that behavior soon lost its appeal. I became increasingly uninterested in attending such gatherings as before, and found myself making excuses to my friends why I could no longer attend. Eventually, I began to share my faith in Christ to them. Except for a few, most of my college friends did not want to hear what I had to say about Jesus Christ and they weren’t bashful about telling me so. I had changed, they said, and they did not like the changes they were seeing in me.

Peter makes reference to this in I Peter 4:4. He says lost people are surprised (ξενίζω; xenizo) when any friend of theirs no longer wants to do what they previously did prior to their conversion. The individual’s friends experience an unexpected feeling of wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to party and have fun like the world says you should.

They are surprised, Peter continues, when you do not want to participate in what the apostle says is a “flood of debauchery.” This phrase refers to senseless, reckless and extreme sinful behavior. How well I remember my friends reacting that way when I no longer wanted to participate in their parties.

However, surprise soon gave way to being maligned. To malign (βλασφημέω; blasphemeo), from which we derive our English word blasphemy, means to slander, defame and defile. It means to speak about someone in a way which will injure them or their reputation. This is not a pleasant experience when former friends treat you this way, and say negative things about you behind your back, because you have accepted Christ.

What do you do when this happens? Find new friends who not only love you, but also truly love the Lord. You will find them in a Bible study group, Sunday school class, and in a church. You may find them at school, at college or even at work.

However, even when you feel very alone, remember that Jesus will never leave you or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5-6). How often do I thank the Lord for that precious promise.

Soli deo Gloria!

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