Sunday, April 15, 2007

Jesus Tells You Who to be Friends With

I Corinthians 15:33 - "Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good morals."

Okay, before we dig into what this verse clearly says, let's look at what Paul is talking about through the entire chapter. He's talking about Christ's resurrection - the importance of it, what happens if you don't believe in it, how it happened, what our ressurected bodies will look like in heaven, and how it relates to when Jesus comes back one day. So why in the world in the middle of all that does he warn us that our good morals will be corrupted by bad company?

Well, the reason why Paul had to write all of that stuff was because the Christians during that day were being influenced by the thoughts of the Greek. The Greeks believed that there was no ressurection. So if there is no ressurection, then there's no judgement after death, no accounting before God, and no payment of our sins...leaving those who have ever sinned as condemned to hell rather than saved by Jesus for admittance to heaven. Those are some pretty serious consequences. Paul was warning those who were listening to the Greeks and confusing Christ's message in their mind of the dangers of listening to the wrong people.

Have your parents ever warned you about one of your friends? Maybe they've told you to be cautious around her. Maybe they wouldn't let you go over to her house. They might have even told you not to hang out with her. Did you ever respond to their objections of your friendship with the retort, "You CAN'T tell me who to be friends with!" Well...technically, they're your parents, and they can. But even if they couldn't, Jesus can. And He did. Just look at I Corinthians 15:33 above.

My teenage years in middle school were really the first years that I made my own social circle that didn't revolve around my parents. Growing up, my parents were ALWAYS around. My dad was a minister at my church until I graduated college, and my mom was a teacher at my school until the sixth grade. It was that first year of middle school that my primary social circle didn't somehow include someone in my family. I've heard it said that relatives are the family you're born with, and your friends are the family you get to choose. This is exactly true. Because whether you realize it or not, your friends influence and shape who you are just by being around them.

Now, before we get too far ahead, let me make sure you understand what a friend is and who I am really talking about. Your friends are more than just acquaintances. For example, an aquaintance might be someone that you talk to in math class everyday, but a friend is someone you talk to on the phone everyday. An aquaintance would be someone that you would invite to a party at your house, but a friend is someone who is there to help you set up for the party and help with the dishes after the party is over. Make sense?

We're girls. We love our friends. We love to spend a lot of time with our friends. So what happens when you become best friends with someone and you become inseperable? You begin to talk alike, act alike, people call you by one another's names, etc. A few times in my life, I've even been told that my best friend and I were starting to look alike!

But what happens if I hang around someone who makes bad decisions or someone who doesn't hold the same morals and values as me? Think I will change? Absolutely. Don't let yourself be fooled with the idea, "Oh, I won't get into that. It won't happen to me." Your friends reflect who you are and help determine the person you become. Choose friends who share your family values and the way you think. To illustrate my point, get a friend or a family member to help you. Stand in a chair while whoever you're with stands on the floor. Grab their hand and try to pull them up on the chair with you. WHEN you give up (because you will), switch roles. Ask them to pull you down to stand on the floor with them. How quickly did they do it? Your friends are the same way. It's much, much harder to pull your friends into a higher moral standard than it is for them to bring you down to their low level of integrity.

Now, I am not saying that you should choose to be friends with someone who is EXACTLY like you. You can have friends with different personality traits from you, but make sure the qualities they have will lead you to positive growth. Choose friends that will have a good influence on you. If you wish you were more focused, choose a friend who is determined. If you want to learn to control your temper, choose a friend who is slow to anger. These are the kinds of friends that will show you new ways to approach life and how to overcome problems when they come your way. There's nothing wrong with good habits rubbing off on you!

"But Jesus hung out with sinners and tax collectors!" Yes, he share the gospel with them and to share the gospel with them only. We'll look more at that tomorrow...

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Esther 4:14b

"And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"