Sermon: The Danger Of Fitting In
Scripture: Genesis 11 / Exodus 32
ICE BREAKER: Who will you root for in the Super Bowl: Chiefs, 49ers, the commercials, or Taylor Swift?
This week, we talked about "The Danger of Fitting in." We all can recall how powerful peer pressure was in middle and high school! It shaped the way we dressed, how we talked, the decisions we made, and how we felt about ourselves. While most people readily admit the power of social pressure in their youth, many are reluctant to give it much credit as adults. We tend to think that peer pressure is something we grow out of or mature beyond.
However, the data does not back that up! For over 50 years, psychologists have been studying what is called the "Bystander Effect." These studies find that most people will intervene in an emergency when alone but are less likely to help when others are around. In fact, the larger the crowd you are in, the less likely any one individual will step up to help someone in need!
When there is an emergency in the presence of a crowd, people assume they bear less individual responsibility to help. Psychologists call this "Diffusion of Responsibility." The second and most harmful thing at play is "Social Mirroring." Because we don't see anyone else stepping in to help, we follow suit - not wanting to step out of line with the crowd. In other words, WE WANT TO FIT IN!
Whether we admit it or not, even as adults, we desire to fit in with those around us. Peer pressure still holds plenty of weight in our day-to-day lives. Not only can this social pressure cause us to stand by when others need our help - it can ultimately keep us from standing up and living the life God calls us to!
We looked in the Old Testament at two stories where we can easily see the Bystander Effect at play: The Tower of Babel and The Golden Calf.
In both narratives, the people knew better than to disobey God! Thousands of men and women still built the tower and worshipped the golden calf, just going along with the rest of the crowd. To stand up and say something would make you strange and possibly marginalize you from the crowd.
While we spent most of our time looking at negative examples, scripture is also filled with examples of men and women who boldly stood up for what was right! It takes a heroic life to go against the grain and do what is right when no one else will. The one thing all these people had in common is what we call a:
A Pilgrim's Perspective sees our earthly life as a temporary stop on our journey to eternity! It is the daily realization that we are not called to live for this world; Instead, this life is an investment in the Kingdom of God that is still to come!
While peer pressure can be potent, we must remember that someday, we will stand before Jesus as individuals and answer for how we lived our lives! If we are consumed with the here and now, we likely will struggle to fully follow Christ. However, if we learn to keep our eyes on Heaven, we will escape the bystander effect and live a heroic life!
APPLY: YOU WERE NOT MADE TO FIT IN
YOU WERE MADE TO STAND UP
What are some ways the pressure of fitting in holds you back?
What would it look like for you to be entirely free from social pressure?
What is ONE WAY you will practice living with a Pilgrim's Perspective this week?
Ask the Holy Spirit to show you areas where peer pressure is causing you to try and fit in. Take some time and reflect on what it means to live with an eternal perspective. Ask Jesus to help you live focused on eternity!