PEER PRESSURE PROBLEM?
by John Klassek
Have you ever yielded to or been held captive by the ideas and
prevailing mood of others?
When those around you assent to one opinion and you're still not
convinced, where does that leave you?
We're not affected by it, are we?
To varying degrees, we have all experienced it. There's good peer
influence and not-so-good peer pressure.
It's not just a "youth" thing either. Many adults have yielded to
peer pressure, with results that they too have come to regret.
This subtle kind of social pressure dictates what we wear, how we
talk, and what we do. Do changing fashion trends, for example,
affect your purchasing habits? Or on a more serious note, are you
afraid your friends will find out that for the first time in your
life, you're asking questions about Jesus?
Perhaps you feel the opposite as a resourceful individual whose
life's course has allowed you to think independently. Peer ideas
have had little effect on you. You don't need religion, for
example, to be told what's morally right or wrong. The last thing
you need now is a Savior. Or do you?
Whether you lean toward a faith-based belief or are affected by
an increasing secularism, could your position be a result of
those you associate with? If so, you're not alone. A lot of
people are, to one degree or another, affected by peer influence.
Let's look at an example of an intelligent man in leadership,
recorded in Scripture, who privately wrestled with the very same
A man named Nicodemus came to Jesus by the cover of night. You
can read what happened in John chapter 3.
Nicodemus was a part of the influential Jewish sect called the
Pharisees, who, according to the Gospel accounts, opposed Jesus
on almost everything He did. It was a power struggle that played
itself out in their many confrontations.
The Pharisees' role as ruling council in Jewish society dictated
almost every facet of their daily lives, from ritual washings and
fastidious observance of trivial matters to the oral traditions
surrounding Sabbath observance. It's no wonder Nicodemus didn't
want to be seen fraternizing with non-conforming Jesus; it would
have been politically incorrect, risking his standing among his
John gives us some insight into what was really happening when he
wrote about those events: Yet at the same time many even among
the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they
would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of
the synagogue; for they loved praise from men more than praise
from God (John 12:42,43).
Jesus' conversation with Nicodemus that night is a subject by
itself. Nicodemus asked Jesus about His identity, and Jesus
discussed rebirth. Later, as the two men parted, it's anybody's
guess as to the turmoil turning over in Nicodemus' heart.
Sometime later, when Jesus was again hunted by the Pharisees,
Nicodemus' ambivalence is reflected by his probing question to
them: "Does our law condemn anyone without first hearing him to
find out what he is doing?" (7:51).
Thankfully, there's more to the story. After Jesus had been
crucified, Nicodemus appeared again, this time with a Joseph of
Arimathea. These men, not among Jesus' public disciples,
courageously asked governor Pilate for the body, and together
they buried Jesus according to the Jewish customs (19:38-42).
This raises a question: Did it take this brutal death for
Nicodemus to finally break free from his Christ-rejecting peers?
The evidence suggests as much.
Jesus noted that Nicodemus was a "teacher in Israel." As a rabbi
in the tradition of the Pharisees, he would have been well
schooled in the Scriptures. Privy to "in house" discussions among
the Pharisees, he was also well aware of all that Jesus was
becoming known for. Nicodemus must have been troubled by this
Nicodemus could have just as easily come to Jesus by day, but he
was afraid of the consequences. Jesus didn't meet his worldview
of the Messiah, nor did He adhere to the oral Jewish "traditions
of the elders." The impact of Jesus on the lives of common
people, let alone His perceived threat to Nicodemus' priestly
standing in society, was too great to ignore.
The evidence points to the fact that Nicodemus was gripped by a
curiosity and an irrepressible interest in this Jesus, but he was
also stymied by peer pressure. He didn't want to be "seen" being
true to his inner convictions.
In the end, Nicodemus, in his own time and with his own story,
made a complete turnaround. He repented. He was no longer afraid
of what his peers might think. It no longer mattered to him that
he had "defiled himself" by handling the corpse of Christ. It
would have been a sad as well as defining act to physically
handle that dead, bloodied body. As a Pharisee, Nicodemus was not
permitted to touch a corpse, yet he broke all convention by
joining Joseph of Arimathea in wrapping the crucified body of
Jesus and placing it in the hewn tomb.
Nicodemus had finally overcome the adversary of negative peer
pressure. In coming to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, his
experience may have been just as personally difficult as anything
we might face today.
For the rest of his days, Nicodemus would have become a devoted
part of the early Christian community, possibly among the five
hundred people who witnessed the resurrected Jesus.
Considering the story of Nicodemus, where are you on your
Can you relate to Nicodemus' experience? Is peer influence
holding you back from coming to a covenant relationship with
Jesus Christ? Are you worried about what your friends or family
might say, or how it might affect your corporate or political
Nicodemus took that tentative step by going to Jesus. In the
weeks and months that followed that secretive visit, having
weighed in on the debates and seeing the Messiah killed, he could
no longer deny the overwhelming evidence.
It's time to take an honest look at where you are in relation to
Jesus. It's time to examine what the Scriptures really say about
Him. It's time to put God to the trust and, coming to Christ,
publicly embrace Him at last.
John Klassek produces short gospel films for television (www.
message7.org) from his home in Perth, Western Australia.
Scripture quotations are from New International Version.
Taken from "The Bible Advocate" - July/Agust 2010 - a publication
of the CoG7Day, Denver, CO. USA