1 Corinthians 15:33- Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Have you ever used the phrase with your parents, “Well, if I can hang out with them I can be a witness to them?” Some semblance of this phrase came out of my mouth several times in the high school/college/ young adult periods of my life. I was a good kid and grew up in a Christian home. Most of my friends were also in my youth group at church and if they weren’t at my church they went to another one in our community. Therefore, my friends were also pretty good kids too. Somewhere though, about my senior year of high school, I started getting a little itch to bust out of that “good kid” mold. My way of doing that was to date some guys who were bad news. I was convinced that while I was being a little rebellious and hanging out with guys who were not the greatest, I could also be a witness and that was my argument with my parents. I went on to date a handful of guys over the next several years that were no good for me. At the time I truly thought I could have a positive impact on them and for a couple of them I think I did. But looking back I can see the mistakes I made or almost made because of my choice of friends. I spent so much time in their world that the black and white lines I had drawn based on my beliefs started to become gray. I started to become ok with the things I was seeing or hearing on a daily basis because it just became a part of my everyday life and down a slippery slope I went.
There is a quote by Jim Rohn that says, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” If you spend a lot of time with people they will influence the way you act, think, and speak. It can be a slow fade but it happens. I want to make it very clear that God never once tells us to not hang out with sinners. Jesus spent a ton of time with those who had made bad choices in life and who had less than stellar reputations. In fact, he often went out of his way to find them. (This is what my argument in high school was built on!) The problem for us is that he was JESUS! He was tempted by the Devil himself and didn’t cave. He had the ability to get himself off the cross and he didn’t. He knew his Father’s plan and he wasn’t going to be swayed by other’s choices, opinions, or reputations. He knew he could hang around people unlike him and not be swayed. We don’t have that power but we do have something that is strong and that is Jesus living in us.
We are called to be the salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). We are called to be a light in a dark world and we certainly can’t do that if we aren’t a part of the world. So where is the balance? I think we need to look at the example Jesus provides. Jesus was in this world but not of it. He was friends with sinners but he didn’t sin. God commands us all over the Bible to love others. He never tells us to imitate others but he does tell us to imitate Christ. We are human and we will sin. We can never be perfect because we aren’t Jesus. But we can be a light. We can serve others. We can be friendly and kind to those that we see. We can be inclusive and let others know they are seen. Most of all we need to love others and point them to God’s love.
Do you need to re-evaulate your friends today? Can you look and see where they have caused you to slide into some gray areas that you really aren’t ok with. Do you know girls in your school that would have a positive influence on you that you may need to start hanging around? Are you putting yourself out there to be a light? Friendships and relationships are hard and I am praying for you today as you look at what you have and decide if you need something different!
Written By: Heather