Unfortunately, the Matlacha fishing boat had to conform to the other boats in the marina because of pier pressure.
As Eve handed an apple to Adam, she said: "Every person in the world has tried it, but you!" Peer pressure can be very debilitating. Contrasting ourselves to others and trying to live up to their successes or lifestyles can keep us from living in God's garden of happiness. Therefore, the real question is not "What do I look like in the eyes of others based on their ideals?" but "What do I look like in God's eyes?"
There is a parable about a little seed that makes for a telling tale:
A little seed lay in the ground and soon began to sprout.
"Now which of all the flowers around," it mused, "shall I come out?
"The lily's face is fair and proud, but just a trifle cold;
"The rose I think is rather loud, and then, her fashion is old.
"The violet is very well, but not a flower I'd choose;
"Nor yet the Canterbury bell, I never cared for blues."
And so it criticized each flower, the vain and haughty seed.
Until it woke one summer hour and found itself a weed.
Based on our compassions and the criticism of others, we often think of ourselves as useless weeds, but the ironic thing that Jesus points out is that in God's eyes we are all weeds.
John Gough, a great soloist, was sitting in a worship service listening to a hoarse, discordant voice singing behind him. The voice was so bad that he truly felt sorry for its owner. The closing hymn was: "Just as I am, without one plea." And the soloist cringed as he listened to the grating voice without a hint of melody. Between the first and second verse the organist mercifully played an interlude. While the interlude was being played, the great singer felt a hand touch his arm and a man whispered: "Could you please tell me the first words of the second verse. I believe that I could pick up the rest if I know how the verse begins." As Gough whispered back: "Just as I am, poor wretched, blind" he noticed that the man was blind and then he heard the grating voice trying to sing:
"Sight, riches, healing of the mind
Yea, all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God! I come."
Gough said he felt that he would like to lend him his voice and help him sing. And so God feels toward us when we try to serve him or believe. He would help us in our failures, and unlike Gough, He is able to do it!
The difference between the righteousness of men and the righteousness of Jesus is that peer pressure makes us work for the former while the righteousness of God is a free gift. There is no peer pressure from God. We never need to worry about being righteous enough. We're righteous enough and then some, because our righteousness is the righteousness of Jesus.
Roger Lemke is pastor of Fishers of Men Lutheran Church. The church is at 10360 Stringfellow Road. Call 239-283-1170 for service times and/or additional information.