I had a conversation with my daughter the other day, one of the many just like it, about the people she chooses to be around. Not only be around but allow into her personal life. I have learned over my many years of making poor choices that the company we keep speaks volumes of the person we are.
I am aware of the fact that Jesus ate with “sinners” and tax collectors (Matthew 9:9-13). Jesus did at times spend time with some crooked people, but that wasn’t who He let in His “inner circle” so to speak. As someone with any type of past, we must be selective as to the company we keep.
When I was released from prison all those years ago it was a concept I didn’t really understand. I feel that if I would have understood it then, the years after might have been different. Maybe not different as much as it would probably have taken more than two days for me to start my return to my old ways. It took me a long time to realize that there are really two types of people in this world. There are the ones that are pursuing Christ, and then there is everyone else. As a Christian, as a Christ follower, this is an important thing to know. Not only is it important to know but also important to be able to tell the difference.
When the choice is made to make a change. When we have come out of our prison, whatever that might have looked like, it is vital that we can see the difference in the two types of people. If we have come out of an actual prison or jail it’s not really in our best interest to be involved with the same people from before. If it’s the confinement of a drug or alcohol addiction, it is crucial that we distance ourselves from people who entertain those things.
My daughter used to give me the line about how she can save them. I used to give myself the same lie. We tell ourselves it’s ok because Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors. I’m here to tell you that that is a misinterpretation of the Scripture. As we read it, yes, He ate with them. The Bible only speaks of one meal. Our “flesh” and the world translate it as they hung out every day and did everything together.
This is where the discernment comes into play. When we make the choice to follow Christ, every single one of our relationships must be re-evaluated. We must look at everyone we have contact with and see how they will affect our new life (2 Corinthians 5:17). If they are pursuing Christ then they move up in the “friends” list. If they are not then distance should be given in the relationship.
Here is some hard truth. It’s not always friends and acquaintances; this can sometimes include family as well. This is the tough part, but a necessary one. Anything or anyone that isn’t on the same path as you will only cause distraction and a possible fall.
When Jesus was talking to Nicodemus that night in John 3, He spoke of being born again. That very same deal ties in with 2 Corinthians 5:17. When we are born again, the old self is dead and behold all things are new. At that moment we became a new creation. A new creation washed clean by the Blood of Jesus. We should then re-evaluate our life. We should re-evaluate the company we keep. The people we spend most of our time with.
When my wife and I decided to truly pursue Christ; it was at that moment we knew that everything must change. Everything must be based off who was going to bring us closer to God and who wasn’t. Sure, there were other parts of our life that were in question, but we knew that the company we kept must be the first thing we addressed. Once we got that in order the other things started to fall in to place.
One important aspect we sometimes overlook is the affect the people can have on us. The people we spend most of our time with pour into our lives. My mentor always says, “We are the sum of our five closest friends”. We become the company we keep.
I will be honest; sometimes this can be hard. Sometimes it can even seem lonely. But as we pursue Christ, He will bring people into our lives to fill those voids. As we trust in Him, He will bring the people we need. Not always the people we want but what we need.
If pursuing Christ is your desire, re-evaluate your relationships. All of them. Place them in two categories, Christ followers and non-Christ followers. The Christ followers you should bring closer and distance with the non-Christ followers.
Christ followers don’t just warm a seat on Sunday. Christ followers bare the fruit of following Christ. Christ followers spend time in the Word, prayer and with others that are going in the same direction. Anything outside of that falls in the other category.
Keep in mind, Jesus only had 12