Monday, December 28, 2009

Do our associates define us?

I’ve often heard the expression: what goes in also comes out. I always believed that but never gave it too much thought beyond the mere premise. After all, if the music to which I listen purports violence, sex, drugs or alcohol – and there is no shortage of that format these days – then I’ll be more likely to want to trend that way while scanning the program guide on television or viewing the magazine racks at the local bookstore. However, if I commute to work while listening to sermons or praise music; in constant prayer, focused on Christ with every step, then I’ll typically feel more at home with the Lord. I’ll most likely not be wavering in my every decision as to whether or not each would be acceptable as a Christian, attempting to imitate a Christ-like life.

While creating this blog, I realized that under the profile box marked ‘interests,’ those interests quickly connected me with every other Blogger that shares that same interest and registered on the same network. It’s a great networking tool I must say. In one instance, I posted ‘walking with God’ as an interest and immediately found dozens of other Bloggers who share that same interest. However, I also learned that my non-Christian or secular movie interests associate me with a network unbefitting to that of a holy life. For example, when I clicked European Vacation, as it is one of my favorite movies of all-time, I immediately found myself with other bloggers connected to all sorts of profane, un-Godly nonsense. Now, I don’t want to sound pretentious – as I’ll never remove the priceless images of Clark Griswold knocking heads with other men in Germany while sporting a full-on Lederhosen – but do these ‘associates’ pose as a help, or hindrance in my walk with God?

My point is simply this: our associates can delineate who we are in many ways. If I’m out bowling and drinking with my buddies rather than staying at home with my wife and children, being the husband and father they deserve, then more than likely that’s going to begin shaping my decisions in life; changing my motives as to how or why I make certain choices. In essence, we could begin to conclude that our ‘associates’ define or, influence who we are and how we’re seen.

One could easily argue however that Jesus was not defined by the associates with whom he ministered, at least, during his life on earth. History would certainly define them as Godly men, worthy of Sainthood in many cases; the crowd with whom many would be honored to be associated. But, we are in a totally different era; an era with social networking sites, Blackberries, and blogs that tell people in one quick view of our profile, what we’re all about. Do we want to constantly fight-off emails about enlarging our body parts or find other sexy singles in our immediate area looking for a ‘date’? My answer is a resounding “NO!”

Chuck Colson’s book How now shall we live? certainly begs to ask us all this question: how now shall we live? Should we constantly aim to impress people by the number of movies we like or the quantity of books we have read? Must we show-off to everyone that views our Facebook page, blog, or Tweets by announcing how many places in the world we’ve visited and what more we must accomplish before we will feel satisfied with our life? Are we somehow better by having more friends or followers than somebody else? I ask simply, “Isn’t God enough?” It’s often seen as boring or too-religious if we’re just seen as Godly or interesting in nothing more than worshiping God and being a great husband and father; and we don’t want to seem boring to our friends, do we?

I am reminded of the story in Nehemiah: When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble—burned as they are?" Tobiah the Ammonite, who was at his side, said, "What they are building—if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!" Nehemiah 4:1-3 (NIV)

Did you notice that word in verse 2 – associates? I have a feeling that during that event, Sanballat, Tobiah, and the mentioned associates were shouting insults, epithets, and mocking the “feeble Jews” that joined in the effort to rebuild the wall; a wall that was nothing more than burned stones to the associates. I believe that we are defined or shaped by our associates. I say, they can keep us in an un-holy, un-Godly life. We say however that our Faith will keep us from choosing a path God doesn’t want. But I ask: why even temp ourselves? Why not clean-up our activities, interests, and associates? Are we too worried that somebody might notice we’ve left the group? I’d rather be in God’s group, for He will be my final Judge, not my associates.

Copyright © Holy Hoosier, 2009

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