I CORINTHIANS 15:32-34: “…And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.” NLT
OBSERVATION: Are friendships in life important? Does it really make a difference who I hang around with? Are my current circle of friends pulling me upward in my faith or are they causing me to backslide in both my thoughts and actions?
Here is a thought that we rarely consider when choosing our friends. How do they view the resurrection of Jesus Christ? Is this the foundation of faith that directs their life or is it something that is relegated to a place of unimportance, or worse yet, viewed as mere mythology?
Paul contends that how we view the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important foundation in both life and the friendships we embrace and foster. Why is this? If the resurrection of Jesus Christ is not a fact then it doesn’t matter how we live. Paul is bold enough to say,
- “…And if there is no resurrection, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!”
In other words, if Christ has not risen from the dead, then this life is all there is. If we only have one time at bat, why would anyone resist temptation and discipline their life and choices? The motto would be, in the words of Bill and Ted – “Party on dudes!” The goal in life becomes living for ourselves and our pleasures. There is no reason to think about living for God. If the dead do not rise then the very existence of God is suspect.
However, what if the empty tomb is real? What if Christ has physically and historically risen from the dead. What if everything he did and everything he claimed to be is true? The empty tomb either validates or nullifies the claims of Jesus Christ. As Christians, it impacts everything we do and say. And, it should also impact who we choose as our friends.
Why is this so crucial? It is because we become who we join in partnership with. There is a difference between associating with someone and entering into a friendship or partnership with them. We cannot escape this world and will find ourselves associating with all types of people. However, it is who we spend quality time with, share our secrets with, and our quality time with that we must exercise wisdom and caution.
Many Christians believe they can have close, intimate friendships with non-believers. They think that their relationship will change the unbeliever. Yet, the opposite turns out to be the case. Paul wisely states,
- “Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”
As a young believer, I learned this very early on. I was in college and was very attracted to a young lady who I met in one of my classes. I was on fire for the Lord and she was not a Christian. We went out on a date and I shared my faith with her and she shared her desire to party and get high. I invited her to church and she invited me to a party. Neither one of us was willing to give any ground because we knew that we were both at risk of losing what we embraced.
I learned that missionary dating never works!
I have seen over the years young people with vibrant faith fall away from the Lord as they became attracted to and attached to the wrong friends. Sometimes it is in a dating relationship and sometimes it is just the wrong crowd. However, every time one of two things always takes place. Either the believer finds that they cannot have close fellowship with this person or group, or the believer’s faith begins to wane until they find themselves doing and believing what those around them are doing and believe.
What advice does Paul give us?
- “Think carefully about what is right, and stop sinning. For to your shame I say that some of you don’t know God at all.”
Paul calls us all to stop and take inventory of our lives. We need to think carefully about how we are living and what is right. If there is an empty tomb, if Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, if there is life after death, including rewards for how we have lived this life in faith (I Corinthians 3:9-15), then what we are doing now matters. Have we allowed ourselves to be deceived by our friendships? Are we living like someone who does not know God at all?
This is one of the toughest decisions each one of us will have to make in our walk of faith. We can always be friendly to all people but we must be careful who we embrace as our close and intimate friends. We need to surround ourselves with people of faith who are living in the reality of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We need to be surrounded by a community of faith in a Bible teaching and believing church. We need to realign our relationships around the call to take up our cross and follow Jesus!
So what do you do if you find yourself in a relationship that needs to be changed? Let God begin to change you. Begin to realign your time and activities around those things that you know are pleasing to God. Get back to church. Attend regularly, read your Bible, and take time to pray. As you change, invite these people to join you in these renewed activities and let them know when you cannot participate in theirs. Do this lovingly, not judgingly. Perhaps they will be drawn to the Lord or you both will know that you are on two different pathways of life.
God will bless your surrender and obedience. He will replace any friendships that you have to release with new ones that will not only be deeper and richer but will also be instrumental in building up your faith. And, He will bring a life partner to you that will be the perfect complement and companion for your life and calling.
Choosing your friends is so important. Lord, help us all to choose wisely!
In Jesus Name!