Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Illustrate the meaning of "A Man is Known by the Company He Keeps" (without using the actual phrase). (01/31/08)
TITLE: Uncommon Associations
By RuthAnn Cornelson
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“Hi, guys. You going to lunch? Hang on a sec, I’m almost done.”
“Nah, we’ve already been,” Beth answered. “Hey listen, we decided that we should all go together to the Chippendales show next Friday. You want to come?”
They knew she’d say no, but Suzanne was glad they asked. She’d been making a point of spending time with these girls so that they’d know she was a “regular” person even though she was a Christian.
“Thanks for asking. You know I wouldn’t be comfortable there, so I’ll pass, but if you need a designated driver how ‘bout I come pick you up afterwards and we can get some coffee or something. You’ll be needing some coffee by then I bet.” She laughed with them as they agreed that they very likely might.
It wasn’t the first time she’d been their designated driver. Sometimes she went out with them after work for drinks. They tried to talk her into joining them, but basically they didn’t care if she didn’t and she didn’t care if they did. Mostly they talked about work and family and relationships. They started opening up to her quickly after she started socializing with them a bit; came to her for advice and didn’t seem to mind when she brought the Lord into it.
She’d been trying to steer them in a different direction in some of the social activities they did together: come over to my house, go out for Mexican, watch a movie, play some games. It surprised her, and them, when they started saying yes.
Unfortunately, some of her Christian friends at work and from her small group at church saw her with them a few times and started getting on her about Christians socializing with non-Christians. "Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you." That was pretty much the mantra even though it wasn’t really in context.
“Suzanne,” Heather spoke with earnest concern at small group that night. “You’re compromising your Christian testimony by hanging around with people like that. You know that other people look at who we associate with to decide who we are. Christians are thinking you can’t be living a good Christian life when you socialize with non-Christians and the non-Christians probably wonder the same thing.”
Suzanne thought for a second. “So, is that what you guys think? I come here every week to study with you, to worship and pray together. Sometimes I ask you to pray for the girls at work and for me when I’m with them. Do you think I’m not living a good Christian life? I can tell you for sure that the girls at work don’t wonder about it. How come we judge each other just by who our friends are? We really don’t have to let the people we associate with determine who we are. I know we have to be careful about compromise. I’m always reminding myself – be in the world, not of it, Suzanne. In it, not of it. I pray that all the time.”
“Suze, come on, that’s not what we’re saying,” her best friend said. “It’s not that we think you aren’t a good Christian because you spend time with your co-workers. It’s just that it’s best for Christians to hang out with Christians, right?”
“Well, I don’t really think so, Sarah. We have to think about being salt and light. Hard to do when we’re just hanging out together. Listen, I have to go. I really love you guys. I know you maybe don’t understand everything I do, but I’m glad you’re here for me.” Suzanne left, thankful that she had Christian friends praying for her and supporting her in her efforts for the Lord.
After Suzanne left, Sarah gathered the group together, “Let’s have a time of prayer for Suzanne. I think she’s really getting off track with the Lord. She needs to stay away from those people at work. It’s just not good for her. She’s going to end up being like them. You know it’s true. You can always tell what kind of person someone is by who they associate with. And Suzanne is associating with the wrong people.” Murmurs of concerned agreement rippled through the group.
II Cor 6:17 NIV
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