So this past Sunday was Valentine’s Day and all that jazz, whatever. The topic at youth group that evening was about dating, big shocker there right?
Well, my pastor split us in pairs of two and handed us note cards with Bible verses or quotes on them. We were supposed to write down how we felt about the quotes or what we thought about the verses. This helped the topic to be a more inviting group discussion and he opened the floor for any questions or comments so that we could clear up any confusion.
We did talk about sex and so I managed to shamelessly give a plug for my ministry called Willing to Wait, and how we as student volunteers go into the public schools and perform skits about sexual risk avoidance and abstinence.
See what I did there? Anyways……
My partner and I had two verses to look up, one of which was 1 Corinthians 15:33. This stood out to me because straight up, it makes sense and is usually a good idea.
“Do not be deceived: Bad company corrupts good morals” 1 Corinthians 15:33 ESV
Take a moment and think about it.
Don’t your over protective parents always warn you about hanging out with the wrong crowd? Why? Are they really being over protective? Or just loving?\
Why does Paul warn us against “bad company”? What does he mean by this?
I believe that what Paul is trying to say, is to watch out for who you interact and spend time with, because they can influence you in ways that are harmful to your spiritual growth and personal relationship with God.
The thought behind this is similar to the reason why God had the Israelite’s conquer and kill the foreign nations living in the promised land. The Israelites had a long history of idolatry which they learned from their polytheistic and pagan neighbors. God knew that and so he told them not to allow any of these foreigners to live because otherwise they would continue to stray away from Him and worship pagan gods and idols.
Well, then the next thought I had was that, hey this verse is kind of a contradiction to what Jesus did, and what we as Christ followers are called to do as well. Christ associated himself with the worst of the sinners. He had conversations with prostitutes and meals with the tax collectors. He ministered to the lost, those who didn’t go to church or live in ways that are pleasing and holy to the Lord.
“I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people – not at all meaning the sexually immoral of this world, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. ” 1 Corinthians 5:9-10
Paul was talking to the church in Corinth not to associate with sexually immoral man who claimed to be a Christian and yet was choosing a life of sin, but this still applies to us here. He doesn’t mean to only associate with believers who are “upright and holy”. Paul knows that if we stopped hanging out with our not so perfect friends, then we wouldn’t be sharing the gospel with unbelievers, the “lost”.
Our mission is to be a light in the darkness and minister to those “rough characters”
And this is where Paul’s warning comes into play. We are influential beings. Admit it. At some point in our lives so far, we have all tried to influence somebody else. Whether it be trying to get our siblings to do something unsafe like touching an electric fence, or convincing our best friend that a certain type of music is better than another. Infomercials are always trying to influence us to buy a product that we can’t live without. Media influences us about how we should look, dress, what we should eat, what movies we should watch, etc. The list goes on. We have influence upon each other.
Paul was trying to warn us not to let those “bad” friends influence us in ways that can hurt our faith. We as Christ followers are to be the light, and if we are allowing those bad friends to corrupt us morally and spiritually, then our light will be snuffed out by their darkness.
Paul isn’t saying, “Don’t have any immoral friends”. He is simply saying here, to watch who you are hanging out with, because the people you choose to spend time with, are the ones who will influence you, whether for good or bad.
Rather, be the one who influences them, for the better