To blend in or to stand out? Peer pressure is an issue not just for adolescents, adults have it too.
In the Bible, in 1 Samuel 8:5, the Israelites said to Samuel: “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
For years since their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites had always have God as the leader. God spoke to them through Moses. When Moses died, Joshua led them through the conquests until they fully possessed the Promised Land. After Joshua, God raised many judges to lead the Israelites. God used prophets to speak to the people and guide them on what to do. They had no king. God was their king. During the final years of Samuel, the people asked for a king.
They had valid reasons for the request. Samuel was already old. His sons were not like him – they were corrupt and not walking in the ways of the Lord.
But their more important reason was “such as all the other nations have.” When God told Samuel to warn them about the disadvantages of having a king (vv. 9-18), they refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” vv. 19-20
What lessons can we learn from the story?
Samuel was upset about the request. God encouraged Samuel that it is not him they were rejecting but God Himself. Let me remember that God’s work is God’s – let me not be discouraged when people or things seem to be against me… because it’s not about me, it’s all about God.
To be like all other nations… is that a good thing? Seems like it… All other nations had a king, why not us? All other people are doing this, why not me? In life, we often feel more comfortable and safer to be with the majority. Majority rules. But not so in God’s kingdom. Children of God are called to be ‘in’ the world and yet not ‘of’ the world. To be ‘in’ the world is to live in the realities of the world – not detached or out of touch, but be involved and aware of the things happening in the world. To be ‘not of’ the world is to stand different from the world – stand for what is right and good in God’s eyes. It takes courage to go against status quo and stand alone knowing that it is what pleases God.
The more mature a Christian is, the more he will discern and be courageous to stand alone for what is right and good in God’s eyes. When I was young, I felt most at ease and comfortable when I was with my family, with my friends, going along with the majority. It is awkward to be alone. I was afraid to be different and have people ridicule me or criticise me. As I grow older, I seek to be different – to be more independent of people’s opinion and more dependent of God’s perspective. Not that I am perfect, I still crave for affirmation and approval of people, but God taught me lessons on this – to be courageous to be different and make a stand for the right. Many times people might not appreciate what I do. The important thing is am I doing what pleases God?
It’s not about me but all about God.