Have you noticed nobody ever mentions peer pressure anymore? Not that long ago, people worried that “bad company corrupts good morals,” and hoped to find some positive peer pressure for their kids. Negative peer pressure was blamed for all kinds of bad behavior, particularly among adolescents. But I don’t think that’s true anymore. These days, there are so many forms of evil beckoning at every turn that there may not be enough bad peer pressure to go around. People don’t generally surrender to sin under pressure anymore.
Today’s challenge is peer erosion. There is absolutely no pressure to live an upright life or behave in a wholesome and responsible manner. Not only does it seem like bad behavior pays dividends (i.e. the Kardashians,) but it feels like there is nobody left who really cares about goodness. Quite often I find myself recoiling from some popular, public form of behavior, and wondering, “Am I the only person in the world who thinks this is shameful and degrading?”
I recall the moment from Elijah’s life, when God finds the prophet hiding in a cave and asks for an explanation. Elijah replies, “Lord, I have been diligent in serving you but everybody else in the country has turned away from you! They’ve abandoned the faith, toppled your altars and killed your prophets. Now I’m the last one left and they’re trying to kill me!” (1 Kings 20:14)
Elijah isn’t the last true believer left in Israel. In fact, God assures him there are 7,000 other people of faith scattered all across the land who have never bowed to a pagan idol, and who worship the one true God. Sometimes it just feels like you’re the last surviving saint! For Elijah, it was miles of arid landscape that separated him from others who shared his faith in God. For you and me it’s the the overwhelming tide of the media that isolates us in the illusion that decadence is awesome and everybody else is making the most of it. The anonymity of living in urban settings and not knowing our neighbors makes us feel alone, unnoticed, insignificant; a minority of one.
There’s nothing wrong with being the minority. Minority status served the first century church pretty well. It’s not suppressing the influence of the church in places like China where Christians are a real minority, but a growing one. And before we begin to enjoy more influence and more positive peer pressure here in the USA, the saints will need to dig deep and come up with some courage. We are not on the wrong side of history. To the contrary, the history of the world is on our side.
We are simply on the bottom of a world turned upside down. When God prevails and the world rebounds, we will realize we were always on top. And we were never really outnumbered; we had simply been shouted down. Peer erosion is corrected when people like you and me begin to speak up and stand tall once again. We are not alone. God is with us, and He has lots of friends.
Lift up the cross!