I've been out of my teens now for many years. But I admit there are still days when I feel like the proverbial teenager buckling under peer pressure. Sometimes I find myself shying away from controversial topics - remaining silent when given the opportunity to speak. Why?
Remember Pilate? In Jesus' day, Pilate was the Roman governor of Judaea and Samaria. A prestigious position. One he wanted to keep. Of Pilate's many responsibilities, one was to maintain peace in his region. Imagine his uneasiness when a crowd of Jewish leaders approached him with a major concern. They had a problem with Jesus, "We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that himself is Christ a King," (Luke 23:2; KJV).
After an initial questioning, Pilate returned his verdict, "...I find no fault in this man," (Luke 23:4b). The Jews rejected his judgment, fiercely stating that Jesus was purposely causing dissent among the people with His teachings.
Since Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate saw an opportunity to pass the decision-making responsibility on to Herod - the ruler of that region. Pilate's judgment would no longer matter, the Jews would be appeased, and Herod would serve as the scapegoat. Brilliant plan! But it didn't work.
Following the trial with Herod, the chief priests and rulers of the people once again stood before Pilate. His response? "Ye have brought this man unto me, as one that perverteth the people: and, behold, I, having examined him before you, have found no fault in this man touching those things whereof ye accuse him: No, nor yet Herod: for I sent you to him; and, lo, nothing worthy of death is done unto him. I will therefore chastise him, and release him," (Luke 23:14-16).
The Jews wouldn't listen to Pilate's decree, and insisted he release Barabbas, a man who had led a rebellion and was a murderer, instead. What was going on? Pilate tried to get them to see reason - to no avail. By now, the Jews were furious. They demanded that Jesus be crucified. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent, but something the Jews had said made his blood run cold, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar," (John 19:12).
If reports of an uprising in Pilate's region made it to Caesar, not only would he lose his job, he may even lose his life. The cries for Jesus' crucifixion intensified. Pilate gave in to the crowd. Jesus was led away to be crucified.
I can relate to Pilate. Oftentimes I give in to peer pressure in order to protect myself - and end up making poor choices. It's important to remember that God is my ultimate Protector, and the power of the Holy Spirit can help me stand for the truth.
Are you affected by peer pressure? What step will you take today to speak up for the truth?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, I struggle with the fear of rejection. When I'm faced with peer pressure, help me to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to speak up for the truth. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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