When I was a sophomore at The Citadel, I volunteered for a new program which was designed to build a drug and alcohol prevention program at my school. But we weren’t going to focus solely on our own college. In fact, the majority of our effort was spent in public schools throughout the city of Charleston, SC. One of the programs that was heavily requested by the schools was material we did on peer pressure. It was requested a lot because of how big an issue peer pressure is among children and teens. Because of that program, I believe I spent roughly a third of the semester out teaching programs and not in class. But I was glad to spend the time in the schools because just having discussions with 4th-9th graders and seeing their eyes light up as they came to realize that they didn’t have to do what their friends did was so rewarding.
As adults, we often take for granted that it’s obvious that we don’t have to follow in the footsteps of our friends. But think back to school. Think about some of the decisions you made because you wanted to fit in with your friends. Now, think about some of the choices you’ve made recently because it’s easier to keep people happy than argue or discuss an issue. We do it all the time. Actually, the more folks we get together, the more likely it seems that they are going to all do the same thing, even if that thing is not very smart. We call that a mob mentality or mob behavior and there’s been all kinds of studies done about why seemingly intelligent people do very unintelligent things when grouped together. So it comes as no surprise that men and women grouped themselves together to try and do something to show themselves equal to God:
They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.
– Genesis 11:5-9, NASB
This is after the Fall (Genesis 3). This is after Cain murdering his brother (Genesis 4). And this is after the earth was flooded because of the wickedness of man (Genesis 7-8). So if there is something folks should have understood, it was not to mess with God. God had already proven He didn’t take disobedience lightly. And God had already proven He had the capability of destroying the earth. So why did men gather together and try and build a temple to show themselves on the same level of God? I don’t know. But one or more of them had to come up with that idea and got the rest to follow along. This is not the way God would have us be.
God looks for us to be smart in our relationships. He looks for us to be kind and gentle, thinking about one another, looking to help and not harm others, and he looks for us to be proper examples for Him. When it comes to who our friends are, He is looking for us to make smart choices there, too. He wants us to surround ourselves with folks who aren’t going to be as likely to fall into a mob mentality. He wants us to have friends who will look out for us and try to help us from making big mistakes. He wants us to have Pauls who will speak up when we are going down the wrong path, like Peter was in Galatia. And He wants us to be that type of friend to those around us. It’s easy to swallow our tongues and not say anything for fear of conflict. It’s also easy to go and rip someone apart for making mistakes, not caring about the damage we leave in our wake. But it takes someone who really cares to go to a friend and gently, but firmly, lets that friend know that what they are doing or what they are about to do is wrong. But that’s what the right kind of friend will do. Those are the kinds of friends God wants us to have and that’s the kind of friend God looks for us to be.