If you haven’t already, read Birds of a Feather for some background!
Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. | Proverbs 27:17
We tend to stick to “our own,” don’t we? I’m not sure how it is for non-Indian people, but for most Indians this is true: We gravitate towards one another. When we see another brown person there’s an immediate connection – whether or not we know each other, we get each other.
The same is pretty true for Christians. We love being around other Jesus-lovers! We joyfully embrace the blessing of community and praise God for the gift of fellowship!
So being around other Christians pretty much means we’re in a “safe” zone, right?
Wrong. Just because we’re around other Christians doesn’t mean we’re free from danger, temptation, sin. Now, don’t get me wrong. Keeping the right company will definitely have a positive influence in our lives. But how do we assess whether the company we’re keeping is the “right company?”
By befriending other Christians and getting involved with campus ministries, right?
Nope, wrong again. Are you confused yet? Because I certainly was. For a long time I thought the community I was in was “right” and “good” because it consisted of mostly “Christians.” We went to church together, we went to weekly Bible studies together, we studied together, we even prayed together before eating meals together. All great things.
But you know what else we did? We partied together. We drank together. We gossiped together. We lusted together. We dressed and danced provocatively together. We listened to and sang along with vulgar songs together. Eventually, we would stumble out of clubs together. Enjoy drunk meals together. Party for a couple more hours together. Blur the lines together. Pass out together.
Wake up. Wash up. Eat. Repeat. Until Sunday morning, of course. Because on Sundays we would go to church together. Well… they would go to church. Me, not so much.
But these were my Christian friends, so I was good, right?
No. Wrong. Again. Here’s a shocker: Just because someone calls themselves a Christian doesn’t mean they are one. Does that sound harsh? Let’s switch gears real quick. Just because you call yourself a Christian doesn’t mean you are one either. In fact, calling yourself a Christian while you are up to your eyeballs in sin is not okay. Yes, salvation is by grace through faith, not by works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). BUT new life in Christ will undoubtedly bring forth fruit (James 2:17,26). So if you’re eyeballs-deep in sin after proclaiming Christ, my question is this: where’s the fruit that attests to the fact that you’re a follower of Christ?
Did that one sting a little?
Yeah, it was meant to.
Some of you are thinking, “Yeah, you tell them!” A word to the wise: don’t be too quick to dismiss yourself from this. I was. And then my life fell apart. And I found myself asking, “Why, God?” Why? I had the audacity to ask why?! Well because I was living the exact opposite of a Christian life. I was claiming to be a follower of Jesus but really, I was nothing more than a fan – a bandwagoner at best.
Some of you may think I’m being harsh or “too extreme.” I’m not. I’m just being honest. And I don’t think there’s really such a thing as being “too radical” for Christ. We NEED to be talking about this stuff because it so easily blindsides many of us who profess to know Christ.
What does real Christian community actually look like? It’s the closest thing to heaven on earth, it’s joy, freedom, vulnerability – but not fleeting joy, not purposeless freedom, not rampant vulnerability. It’s joy and freedom and vulnerability grounded in and founded upon Christ, the solid Rock. Christian community allows us to be free to struggle because Christian community keeps the focus on Christ, the One who equips us, carries us, leads us through those struggles. As iron sharpens iron, Christian community sharpens the Christian and readies him/her for battle.
Because YES, we’re in a battle y’all.
A spiritual battle that Satan is really trying to win.
Life is hard enough, tempting enough with the current state of society. With pictures of half naked women on billboards, with materialism euphemized as the American Dream, with tantalizing offers of “escape” and enticing thrills around every corner. Life is hard enough. So why are we making it harder for ourselves to be Christians in this dark world? Why are we giving Satan the win?
Friends, it’s time to assess the company we keep and the company we provide. Reflect on the “Christian community” you belong to and then reflect on how you contribute to it. Think about those “sensitive” topics people generally stay away from or pretend don’t exist. Are there certain things you/y’all consider permissible? Why or why not? What’s the Biblical basis for doing/not doing certain things?
This has been an area of constant growth for me. I’ve had to repeatedly adjust my viewpoints as I’ve come to know Him more. At the end of the day, I still don’t have all the answers. And I still don’t always know what is right or wrong. But by His grace and patient teaching, I’m learning how to navigate through the “gray areas” of life.
There’s a method I use for myself and for “my people,” my inner circle, my Christian community. In every situation consider this: Is doing [activity/behavior] so important, so necessary that I cannot bear to go without it for fear of some grave eternal consequence? Christ sacrificed His glory, His royalty, His comfort, His body, His life for me. Can I not sacrifice this desire, knowing that doing so would certainly honor Him? Not making this sacrifice and choosing to engage in [activity/behavior] may not necessarily please/displease Him. But wouldn’t making this sacrifice give us the assurance that we certainly DID please Him? Isn’t that more valuable? More necessary? More worth it?
Assess your “Christian community.” Assess your role in it. Are you [y’all] for real about this whole Jesus thing? Or are you still flirting with the world? Because if you’re not ALL IN with Jesus, you are, by default ALL IN with the world.