“Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
~Romans 12:2 MSG
There’s a difference between being a “mature” teen and being a spiritually mature teen. For some reason, teenagers have been brainwashed into thinking that being mature means doing things we are not supposed to do. This involves smoking, drinking, partying, etc. The girl that is timid and stays away from this type of lifestyle is supposedly immature, and in the process gets rejected. In the musical "Grease", a quiet “goody-goody” is made fun of by her friends. In the end, she decides that she needs to “grow up”, so she asks one of her friends to help her to come out of this shell and become more like her peers. When this is accomplished she feels accepted by her friends and is suddenly viewed as being 'cool' because she chose to compromise. Unfortunately, she didn’t grow up. She just stooped lower. And that’s what we need to realize. Being mature doesn’t mean doing something stupid or illegal. It doesn’t mean getting a car for your 15th birthday, having a baby at sixteen, or even being able to carry on a mature conversation with an adult. True maturity is developed when we are able to stay close to God and not let the surrounding culture influence us. It isn't based on popularity or knowledge, but on wisdom.
In my latest Teen Talk Tuesday post, we discussed how difficult it is to be different from other teenagers who aren’t Christians. We as teenagers do not like to be rejected, so many of us make stupid decisions just to feel accepted. But we need to realize that true acceptance only comes through Christ. Sure, we may be rejected by other teens because of our relationship with the Lord. But in the end, the teenager that can go through high school and remain true to God is the one that God will bless the most.
There are many things that today’s teen culture has accepted as okay, even for Christians. That’s why we need to stay close to God. This way, he’ll be able to help us to discern right from wrong and develop true maturity in us. However, it won't be easy and you will have to fight hard against the high school culture. This may bring rejection from your friends, but so what? Wouldn’t you rather please God and allow him to bless you eternally than try to earn temperal worldly acceptance from your so-called “friends”? So would I.
Thoughts to Ponder:
- Are you influenced more by your friend’s way of thinking or God’s way of thinking?
The more you hang around your friends, the more you become like them. So who are you hanging around most? Your friends, or your God? Maybe the people you hang out with are Christians, but they don’t completely live for God. They still like to have 'fun' in the wrong way every now and then, and might even convince you that it’s okay, since God forgives anyway. This is when you must ask yourself, do their words match up to The Word? Don’t let them brainwash you. They may try to water things down to make them seem “okay”, but refuse to let them make you think their way. Listen to God only, not the culture around you.
- Is there anything that you have accepted as okay, even though you know God probably isn’t pleased with this decision?
We can also brainwash ourselves and water down God’s word to fit what we like to do and what we may think isn’t bad. Naturally, we as teenagers don’t like discipline, so it’s not that easy forcing ourselves to do the right thing. Maybe you don’t do bad things or hang around bad people, but some of your actions are questionable. Are you listening to too much secular or the wrong kind of music? Are you completely obsessed with a certain band or celebrity? When you pick out your outfit for the day, are you trying to please guys or God? No matter how big or small the sin is, you're still ignoring God’s truth. Don’t convince yourself that these small things are okay just because you’re not breaking the law. Make the decisions that Jesus would make and that you know would please God. Surrender to him only, that way he can completely develop true maturity in you.
- Based on Romans 12:2, why do you think it’s so important to stay true to God in high school, even if that means not having any friends at all?
The Bible never promises that life will be easy.You’ll be rejected. Hurt. Dissapointed. But the one who can 'stick it out' and be tough to the end gets the reward. And based on Jeremiah 29:11, God has a special purpose designed for each one of his children. If we fight through the tough times and remain close to God, then he will lead us towards the plans that he has for us. High school is a great time to prove to God that he means more to you than friends. Keep Romans 12:2 in mind when school starts back next fall, and remember that you can get through anything when God is on your side.
Have you ever been pressured by your friends to do something that you knew wasn’t right, but you gave in anyway? How did it make you feel afterwards, or did you have to suffer the consequences?