Follow God ... Not the Crowd
Share This Devotional
When I was about eight years old, my mom realized that I needed reading glasses. Back then, kids who wore glasses were made fun of in school. I was also a tomboy so I was teased every day about something and I eventually felt like I didn’t “fit in” with the other kids in my class. Because I was raised in a Christian family, I respected others and followed the rules but I eventually began to act out in order to be noticed and feel included. I joined in on the name-calling and insults being hurled by the other kids. I’d even be a distraction in class by doing things that would make everyone laugh. The teacher didn't appreciate it and I got called out on it. I knew better, but I wanted people to like me.
Recently, I was reading through the book of Galatians and was surprised to learn in Chapter two that even Peter, one of God’s closest Apostles, succumbed to some peer pressure. Peter had apparently been socializing with unsaved Gentiles. His conservative Jewish friends would have expected him to teach the Gentiles that they needed to follow the Jewish laws (including circumcision) to be true believers and accepted as Christ followers; but Peter did not. So, when those friends arrived in town, he distanced himself from the Gentiles because he didn’t want it known that he wasn’t living up to the conservative teaching standards.
The Apostle Paul was in Jerusalem at this time and knew exactly what Peter was doing and was quick to expose him in front of everyone:
Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up to Peter in front of them all: “If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you’re not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your friends from Jerusalem?” (Galatians 2:11-14 MSG)
Like Peter, I felt embarrassed when I was called out in front of my class. I had to apologize for disrupting the class and my teacher. If I felt humiliated as a child, I can only imagine how Peter must have felt as an adult. As a Christian in my mid-40’s, my glasses are now fashionable, and my tomboy ways are more appealing, but most importantly, I realize that obedience to God’s commandments is so much more important than worrying about what other people think. Instead, I should use every opportunity to share the good news by setting a good example for non-Christians to follow.
Pray with me:
Lord Jesus Christ, please help us to stay true to You and Your pure Gospel message. You tell us that Your grace is all we need and to love You with all our hearts, souls, and minds and love others as we do ourselves. As we learn to walk through this life, please give us the courage to avoid peer pressure and the strength to stand on what we know is true about You. Use us to love others into Your kingdom and represent Your open arms and nail-scarred hands.
Scripture quotations are taken from THE MESSAGE, copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Used by permission of NavPress. All rights reserved. Represented by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Share This Devotional