Thursday, December 15, 2016
And he points out that many people have sex for the first time, drink and smoke for the first time, due to the pressure of friends and not wanting to "feel left out." We read many stories in the Bible of people who were indeed left out, and suffered greatly for it, when they wouldn't go along with the pressure from their peers. Daniel, Joseph, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego... they all suffered due to not conforming. Just yesterday the church celebrated the feast day for St John of the Cross, who was thrown into a closet for a year because he wouldn't follow along in the footsteps of his fellow religious, who were abandoning their vows of poverty and chastity.
"Do not be conformed to the world," Paul tells us, "but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Notice that the first part alone would leave you lonely and depressed. But God doesn't ever stop with depriving us of anything good. Instead, He calls us out of the insipid squalor of "the world's goods" in order to give us something far better. When peer pressure is trying to weigh us down, we can always find a pier out into the peaceful calm of nature, and spend time with God to get our bearings again. To find the better thing that He's bringing us to.
And that's always the case, my friend. God never calls us to suffer just for suffering's sake. He calls us to go through dark times, through valleys of the shadow of death... but only so that we find the mountain on the other side. His promises are radical - whoever gives up their family, friends, wealth, or anything else in this life, Jesus promises, will gain the Kingdom of God... and all of the rest thrown in as well. Seek first your own selfish desires, and you'll lose them. Seek first the Kingdom and you'll get the Kingdom along with all of the good things that your heart desires.
I would feel silly if I promised that. I'm in no place to do so. But I have it on the best authority.
God, thank You for the sacrifices that You call us to make... but only for something far better.