When you think of peer pressure, do you think of what children or teenagers go through at school? They often encounter pressure to do things that under normal circumstances they would never consider doing. Or how about a college student away at school being pressured to take a drink or drugs so that they can make some new friends? Those are the kinds of pressure that come to mind for me when I hear the term, but peers can pressure people to do good things too—to participate in team sports so you can have fun (even if you hate team sports), to be part of a group that is helping others, or even just a group for social reasons.
Today, I want to discuss a kind of peer pressure that has been on my mind for quite some time. If you are in the habit of forwarding e-mails, or sharing Facebook posts, you may have encountered this as well. Very often at the end of a touching or inspiring e-mail, the recipient will be told to forward it, and remember that if you are ashamed of Jesus and His words, He will be ashamed of you too. (Luke 9:26, Mark 8:38) What purpose does saying this have? Only to make the recipient feel guilty or afraid and pressured to forward the e-mail on. Is that really necessary? Is it that important to share the e-mail. If the message is inspiring enough it would get shared anyway; I often get the same ones from multiple sources.
In Luke 9:23-25 Jesus told His followers that in order to follow Him they would have to take up their cross daily. They would have to put Jesus ahead of themselves in everything they did. (Philippians 2:8-11) They would have to serve God, not money. (Luke 16:13) They would have to love their neighbours as themselves. (Matthew 19:19) They would have to pray continuously with thanksgiving. (I Thessalonians 5:17, Philippians 4:6-7) They would have to endure suffering with grace, and wisdom. (II Timothy 2:3, I Peter 2:19-20, II Timothy 4:5, Hebrews 10:32-36) They would have to rely on His strength. (II Corinthians 12:9) Jesus’ followers then needed to be willing to proclaim Christ in the face of physical persecution and even death, and that is still true for many Christians around the world today. There are many more important ways that we can proclaim Him that don’t require sending unwanted, guilt-inducing e-mails to our friends.