Does the people you hang out with matter? The fact is that we are all impressionable. We allow everything from current events, to movies, to people influence us everyday. The things we see, hear, smell, touch, and taste all leave impressions on us. They burn into our brains and take root into our thoughts, words, and actions. The Apostle Paul has a warning that we should all heed: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’” (I Corinthians 15:33, HCSB)
Paul was writing about the many false teachers that had wormed their way into the church at Corinth. These false teachers were attempting to convince the early Corinthian church that Jesus did not rise from the dead. The false teachers believed that this life is all there is and there is no life after death and that the resurrection didn’t happen. Because the Corinthian Christians were listening to them, they were being negatively impacted in their Christian faith.
Just as it was important for the Christians at Corinth to carefully choose who they were forming relationships with, so should we today. Especially when those relationships are with non-Christians. As Christians, we do need to share our faith and lead other to Christ. However, we need to surround ourselves with God’s Word and other Christians who will help us grow in faith, walk in faith, and live by faith.
Unfortunately, the simple fact of the matter is people tend to lower their standards by hanging out with ungodly people. Peer pressure, wanting others to approve of us, the feeling of not wanting to “stick out” in a crowd, or not wanting others to make fun of us generally make us cave in and join in with whatever the crowd is doing. Before long what we used to see as ungodly becomes the norm and a way of life. Instead of them mimicking our behaviors, we end up mimicking theirs. We end up taking up their “cause” and making it our “cause.”
Today, this is even more true than ever before. We are living in an “instant information” world where news and social media keep us instantly updated on everything that goes on this world. The way we see ourselves, see others and see our world are all impacted. We need to remember that as Christians we are “set apart.” In Romans 12: 2, Paul wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” He also gave advice at the end of 1 Corinthians 15: “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” (verse 58) We are only able to do this by staying in the word of God. In Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” In verse 11 of this Psalm, David wrote, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against thee.” The Apostle Paul also in Ephesians 6:10-18, “Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word. Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.”
So stand firm…stand apart…let the love of Christ shine to a world that desperately needs God.