A common practice amongst government departments is that of lobbying. Lobbyists put pressure on individuals in government to persuade them to do something. We are also familiar with terms like group pressure, peer pressure and social pressure. The idea is to influence someone to conform to those who are doing the pressuring. This can, of course, be positive or negative.
Scripture warns us to be wary of groupthink. “You shall not follow a crowd to do evil” (Exodus 23:2). It is rare in today’s social climate for a “crowd” to pressure for more godly living. It is more usual for the pressure to be to compromise your beliefs.
There are two clear examples in scripture that reinforce our need to be careful. Firstly, we see Aaron the priest responding to the “crowd” when Moses was up on the mountain for a lengthy period of time. The people “gathered together to Aaron” and required he act according to their demands. He gave in to their pressure and the result was the golden calf debacle. Secondly, we see how the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, responded to a “crowd” of Jews who demanded Christ be crucified. He washed his hands of the situation and let the crowd have its way.
We must be prepared to individually uphold a set of well-defined standards imparted to us through a relationship with God. To us personally, scripture says, “Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good” (3 John 11). Sometimes we just have to stand against the crowd. “He who loves his life shall lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). If we love our life we are more likely to compromise to keep that life. To hate our life is to have something more important than fulfilling our personal desires. “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me …” (John 12:26). Following on from Christ’s words, the Apostle Paul said, “Therefore be imitators of God as dear children” (Ephesians 5:1).
To imitate is to mimic or follow. We have many good examples that we can mimic. The Apostle Paul’s example is one – “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Positive biblical characters are another. “…but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12). In order to imitate we need to be very familiar with those we are following.
At this time of the year, there is great pressure from family and peers to “follow the crowd” and join in the fun. We need to be very careful to weigh seriously the pressure placed upon us from groups, peers and society. “And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good?” (1 Peter 3:13).