Positive Peer Pressure
By Rachel Schepp
It was a beautiful sunlit afternoon when our villagers gathered in the grassy field to watch and share in the ceremony of baptism. There was no plan or program, and no one really knew how the day would unfold.
To begin, our village leaders huddled together along the side of our large circle of people talking with one another. We watched as they exchanged hugs with one another, and we could see tenderness in their eyes. Next they were kneeling and praying over the waters that would soon cleanse many hearts that chose to be baptized on that special day. Songs were sung, hands were raised, and some bowed low in reverence of and belief in the One who is capable of washing away the old and making all things new.
Prior to this day, there were several meetings where baptism was discussed by the people interested and the shepherds of our village. There were newcomers as well as veterans and some young people desiring to make a commitment to God. It was an exciting day for everyone as we watched God moving on one heart after another.
It is probably important to back up even before the baptism meetings to say that there had been a great struggle among our young people in the village. Some wondered whether they really wanted to follow God at all. They were coming to a place in their life where they needed to make a clear choice. Many of them had been born into our village, which of course does not mean that they will choose to stay here forever. There is a whole world out there calling them and tempting them, and they would have to be dead in order to not be curious of what that world is all about.
As parents of the village, we do not wish to withhold exposure of the world to our young people. However, we desire that our children would grow spiritually, and therefore we feel that immersing them in the things of the world would be harmful to their spirits. The world is full of music, movies, television, technology and much more which carries the spirit of the age rather than the spirit of God. It is easy to reach for the spirit of the age because it is everywhere you go and everywhere you look. It is difficult, if not nearly impossible, to pick up a book or magazine, for instance, that is going to build up your young person's spirit. Have you ever been through the grocery store checkout counter and read a spirit-building magazine entitled The Beauty Within, with articles like, "10 Ways to Dress More Modestly Without Looking Like a Frump" or "How to Let Your Spirits Shine More Than Your Make-up"? Or maybe a magazine titled Real Strength, which asks you real questions that make you think, such as, "What does it mean to be good rather than look good?" Or, "Is your spirit larger than your biceps?" Or maybe something like, "Being cool or being fools for Christ; which do you choose?"
Like I was saying, as parents we have good reason to desire that our young people to be immersed in the waters of baptism and the Spirit of God, rather than be immersed into worldliness and the spirit of the age, so we do our best to educate our young people about God, Love and spiritual life. At the same time we teach them about the world, self and the spirit of the age. Therefore, our young people will be equipped to make a choice when the time comes for them to do so. As well as educating our young people, we find it most important for us to be walking what we are talking and making the same choices that we are hoping and expecting our young people to make.
Back to the baptism. We watched our young people and rejoiced as each one came forward and expressed their desire to be baptized. There was only a few that we expected to be baptized on that day. However, after a few came forward, so came a few more, and then a few more until the leaders started telling some of the younger children that we thought it might be best to wait until next time.
We, the parents were rejoicing and delighted as each one came forward as if each son or daughter was our very own natural born child. All our worries about our young people were washed away from us on that day. We are very pleased and proud of them. We love them more than anything, and it is for them that we will labor to follow God with our whole heart. 26 of our young people were baptized, ranging from age 13 to 18. We are greatly encouraged, knowing we did not do this, but God Himself moved on the hearts of our children. Their choices were good, and in making them they have become a role model for the children following them. Now that's what I call positive peer pressure!