While peer pressure may be as old as the hills, these days it’s growing more and more powerful and pervasive among teens. What’s the solution?
We find the key in the Trinity: In community.
Cory, 15, may not have realized that when he made this observation: “When I find myself in situations of peer pressure, I think about my family and the kind of example I’m setting for them, especially my sister. This helps me stay focused on my walk with God and avoid giving in to negative peer pressure.”
Cory sheds light on the importance of being in relationships with other people. Not only does being in community hold us accountable for our actions, it also helps us develop into better leaders.
Of course, the concept of community does not originate with humanity. It is a concept birthed out of the very nature of our loving God, who is communal. The triune nature of God (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit) reflects his relational being. Since we were created in the image of God, we too are relational beings created to be in growing relationships with others around us.
God has created us to be a part of his glorious community of believers, which is often referred to as the Body of Christ, a wonderful family. 1 Corinthians 12 boldly declares that as Christians we are members of the Body of Christ and that each one of us plays a crucial role in it.
Cory understands this and because of that he stands up against negative peer pressure confidently out of his responsibility to God and his role within his community. And so can we all.
Titus 2:12 tells us that God has given us the ability to say no to ungodliness and to live holy lives. As we put our trust in God and depend on his Spirit to be our guide, he helps us avoid the dangerous pitfalls of life, including peer pressure.
Malik, 17, has put his trust in God and as a result he is boldly unashamed of his faith in Christ, even when people look down on him. He puts it this way: “If people think I’m a punk for not doing things that go against God’s plans for me, then they can go ahead and keep thinking that because I will not give in to those kinds of things.”
As negative situations of peer pressure present strong temptations within our lives, we can rest assured in the promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13. “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will provide a way out so that you can endure it.” What an awesome promise from our Lord!
Macy, age 16, fully embraces this promise. She knows that God will never let her down and will always take care of her, especially in these kinds of situations. “People will just have to understand and respect my decisions when I decline offers given to me through negative peer pressure,” she says.
This promise of God extends to all believers. Whether situations may be tempting you to get involved with drugs, premarital sex, violence, bullying, stealing, or anything else that may come to mind, know that God can always help you make the right decisions.
No matter what situations you may face, God desires to take care of you and to be your guide each and every day as you continue to trust Him. He will protect you. He will give you the strength to say no to ungodliness. God will help you to remain faithful to him. Seek him. Depend on him. Never give up!
Shane Burt-Miller is youth pastor at Bronx, New York, Bethany Church of the Nazarene.