Wrong association is dangerous for anyone who really wants to live right. I am a strong believer that you should not have as close friends anyone who is not upholding the values and morals you live by, because you cannot continually hang with the wrong crowd without taking on some of their attitudes. You can easily begin to think like them, speak like them and act like them, and most of the times it happens unconsciously, trust me, I have first-hand experiences and I know you might too.
So then, what should we do, should we continually seek or relate with only people we always agree with? Should we continually relate with only those who believe what we believe, only those who we consider “good” or “pure” enough for our “holy” selves? I had to ask myself these questions because I needed to know how to relate with “other” people after I got saved. Would I be offending God if I smiled, played or ate with a non-Christian? Should I accept a hand shake from them, should I even hug them? If no, then how would I be able to spread God’s love to them?
Then one day, I saw something in the book of Matthew:
Matthew 9:10 (ERV)
Jesus ate dinner at Matthew’s house. Many tax collectors and others with bad reputations came and ate with him and his followers.
Jesus did what? He sat down and ate with the wicked tax collectors and people with bad reputations? Wo!!! Did He not care what some of His followers would think, would they still want to hear Him speak, would they still believe in Him, would they not name Him a sinner Himself?
The “mighty religious” leaders did question His leadership and authority; they did raise their eyebrows at Him.
Matthew 9:11-12 (ERV)
The Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with these people. They asked his followers, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and other sinners?”
But the following verse cleared my heart on this issue:
Matthew 9:12 (ERV)
Jesus heard them say this. So he said to them, “It is the sick people who need a doctor, not those who are healthy.
Jesus came and died for the lost, the “sick” in spirit, soul and body. He had a mission to the lost and He was going to have to be with them in order to reach them. He did not have to be like them, but He couldn’t reach them if He could not be with them.
So I could eat with them, sit with them, shake hands with them, talk with them, and even hug them. I must love them in order to reach them, and this love can be shown in different forms as long as I do not get into sin myself. I must know to draw the lines in my relating with them. I have known that there is a difference between reaching out to sinners and companying with them. The latter is the dangerous one according to 1 Corinthians 15:33and Proverbs 13:20
Jesus had His disciples as His companions but He also reached out to others by sometimes “being with” them. He did not consider them unworthy of His love, He did not consider them worthless or common or irrelevant, but He loved them and shared God’s love with them.
Even Peter had to learn this when God sent him to Cornelius a “sinner” because he was non-Jew, he did not belong to the family of Abraham so no Jew should have anything to do with him. But hear what Peter said about the matter:
…”You understand how wrong it is for a Jewish man to associate or visit with anyone of another race. But God has shown me that I should no longer call anyone impure or unclean.”
Act 10:28 (GW)
So we should not consider ourselves so proudly better than other people, we should no longer think anyone unworthy of God. Our love, God’s love working in us should drive us to share His love at any cost, even at the risk of being mocked at by the religious or our church friends. After all, that is why we were saved and sent into the world, to bring sinners to God.
Are you doing anything about it, or are you too “holy” for that?