Well, I did it again... Under the guise of “practicing my right to free speech” via social media, I found myself in a conversation with someone of far intellectual superiority. So, once again, I ask the question “Why me?” Is this an opportunity for me to actually study what I believe to be true and express it lovingly or was I just spewing my opinions with nothing to stand on? Is this a case of David and Goliath or Peter walking through the gates called “Beautiful” extending the hand of grace?
I had posted my belief that “Bad company corrupts good morals.” (1 Cor 15:33) As a father of three, I prefer that my children not hang out with other kids who may not have the same moral convictions. As Granny used to say, “If you lay down with dogs, you catch fleas.” (I think Granny was pretty sharp...) My friend quickly and clearly stated that he disagreed. He believed disassociation from anyone, for fear of picking up bad habits, is the epitome of weakness of character.
Before getting defensive, I found myself agreeing with him to an extent. After all, Jesus didn’t turn his back on someone when they were in need whether that person recognized the need or not. He didn’t just happen upon the woman at the well smack dab in the middle of Samaria only to leave her there because she had been wed five times. He didn’t disassociate himself from lepers for fear of being infected. As a matter of fact, everybody that he encountered or hung out with was boogered up! More importantly, Jesus was very intentional about where he went, when he went, and who he was near. Again, as I have stated in other posts, Jesus issues the command “Follow me.”.
Though, as Christians, the ultimate goal is to look like Jesus, talk like Jesus, listen like Jesus and love like Jesus, we are NOT Jesus. We are given the opportunity to mature in Christ Jesus but it’s a process. It doesn’t happen immediately. When a baby is born, that baby enters the world helpless and totally dependent on someone else to feed. As the baby grows, he/she develops the ability to feed him/herself but is still not completely independent until much later in life. Through those years, that child has matured considerably, all the while, taking on certain characteristics of the person that raised them. Never, in my life, have I met anyone that was beyond the reach of influence. EVER!
Rarely, if ever, does someone struggling with substance abuse immediately go back into the same environment that they escaped with any success. They have to go through a season of detox, a season of counseling and a season of healing. Only then can they have any hope of ministering to the needs of friends with the same habits without being affected. Even if the maturity level is there, do you really think it’s wise to go back into those areas of persuasion for an extended amount of time? The misled individual may see your actions and think they can do the same thing but result in catastrophe.
Association is defined as “A group of people organized for a joint purpose” which begs the question “What is the joint purpose?”. I, as well, meet with and love people from all walks of life on a daily basis. Some of those people still habitually practice things that are detrimentaI to their and my well being. I’m still growing but I’m wise enough to know that I’m not invincible. Choose your battles wisely and proceed with caution.