22nd July

Stand Up To Peer Pressure

Do not be ashamed, then, of witnessing for our Lord; nor be ashamed of me, a prisoner for Christ’s sake. 2 Timothy 1:8

When we are teenagers, so many things are uncertain and yet to be made certain, that we find temporary security by going along with the crowd. It is all too easy to go along with the crowd in things such as smoking, swearing, sex, shop-lifting or drugs, or simply in making fun of someone. It takes exceptional courage to stand up to peer pressure. So we can all, whatever our age, take courage from the example of Cuthbert.

When Cuthbert was a teenager he saw a crowd gather by the river Tweed to watch an unusual sight, so he joined the crowd. Some monks who had recently built a monastery were trying to get timbers to it along the river estuary, but a contrary wind was driving their rafts out to sea. There were five rafts, looking like birds bobbing up and down on the waves. The monks inside the monastery saw what was happening, but their efforts to help came to nothing. So they gathered round a rock and started to pray for their brothers.

The crowd of peasants did not like incomers, especially people who brought in new beliefs and had done away with pagan ways of worship, like these Christians, so they started to jeer and to wish the monks, who were in danger of drowning, good riddance.

Cuthbert was not prepared to remain silent. ‘Do you realise what you are doing?’ he asked them. ‘Would it not be more human of you to pray for their safety rather to gloat over their misfortune?’ The crowd now directed their verbal abuse at Cuthbert. ‘Nobody is going to pray for them,’ they shouted.

So Cuthbert, having listened to them, simply knelt down on the ground and prayed. The wind at once completely changed direction, and brought the monks to a perfect landing beside the monastery. Many in the crowd began to feel ashamed and awed. They felt a genuine respect for Cuthbert and thought well of him from that time on.

Lord, I crave the approval of others
And I don’t like standing out in a crowd
Yet you want me to be true and honest.
Give me grace to pray for and stand by
People who are mocked because of their faith