Friday, November 10, 2017

THE COMPANY WE KEEP


Dear Fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It matters, the company you keep, while you are in this world and not of this world. In John 17:13-19, Jesus prays a prayer of Sanctification (set apart-ness) for His Disciples. I believe this prayer stretches down through the ages to all who would call themselves disciples of Christ. The Lord prayed,

  • I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
Jesus is our Great Example in that He was in the world and allowed situations to move Him to compassion or The Father's Heart for the circumstances. He did not let the negative outlook influence who He was with The Father. Christ's lesson to the Pharisees about this subject is found in Matthew 9:10-13, it says,
  • While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
So, how do Believers be successful at being in the world, but not of the world? The foundation is love or compassion. "If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing." (1 Cor. 13:1-3)

Some building blocks to place upon Love are friends gained by your wealth and your enemies/persecutors loved and prayed for. Do you want to have a particularly nice "welcome into eternal dwellings" one day? Then "use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourself". This is what Luke 16:9 says that Jesus tells us. "I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves, so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into eternal dwellings." Lunch, a card, gas money, helping with a bill, your time and muscle helping them move and so forth are examples of this instruction.

Jesus pretty much guarantees that we will have enemies and those that persecute us in Matthew 5:44-45. But He does NOT say to brandish the sword and smote thy enemy. In fact, He says, "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." According to this definition, can you call yourself a child of The Father in Heaven? If we are part of His Family, He expects us to act like it, even if we are in an environment that is growing more hostile by the minute.

But I hear someone trying to flip the coin and say, but Scripture also says - "Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces." (Proverbs 13:20) - AND - "Do not be misled: 'Bad company corrupts good character.'” (1 Cor. 15:33). This is true, The Bible does say these things, but these words of advice still do not hinder us from mingling with "the sick" and making friends that are in the world and loving/praying for those who persecute you. These words of advice simply call for an air of alertness and discernment about you and The Company You Keep.

It is one thing to be the influencer, however if you are surrounded by "fools" or "bad company" that spew forth negativity all the time and you feel that you have obeyed God's directive at this time, in this company, then it is time for a change of company. Be smart about the people that surround you and the potential ungodly influences that are there. Keep those spiritual antennae up!

Again, Believers in Christ are called not only to be Ambassadors for Him, but Sons and Daughters as Ambassadors for His Family. This raises the bar significantly because now you represent His and your Family to a world you live in but are not made for as a New Creation in Christ. We do this by using every avenue that can possibly fall under the action word of Love, while being discerning of The Company We Keep.