There are many who use the statement that Jesus was “a friend of tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19) to rationalize their social alliances and “after-work” camaraderie with immoral and ungodly people. They do this without any concern or attempt to harmonize the clear statements of Scripture which warn that “bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33), rhetorical questions like, “What partnership has righteousness with lawlessness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14), or God’s admonition for Christians to “go out from their midst and be separate from them” (2 Corinthians 6:17). Jesus did of course dine with “tax collectors and sinners” (Matthew 9:9-10), but what many seem to purposefully overlook is that Christ’s agenda in those settings was clearly stated – “I came to call sinners to repentance” (Mt.9:12-13; Luke 5:32). Christ’s enemies tried to make him out to be a companion of evildoers, along with calling him “a glutton and a drunkard” (Matthew 11:19), which also was not true. Obviously, all Christians will have necessary interaction with ungodly people in this world (1 Corinthians 5:9-10), and like Christ, we should periodically plan strategic times with immoral people, not to “take part in” their lifestyle, but rather to “expose it” and to plead with them saying: “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you” (Ephesians 5:6-14). But when it comes to “down time”, “hanging out” or social interaction, the Scripture is consistently clear: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20).
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Request My God Is True! with your donation this month.
At Focal Point, one of our defining goals in the teaching we strive to produce is accuracy. Every word of Scripture was inspired by God and demands our careful attention. But it isn’t enough to know each verse in context. The living Word of God must have practical implications for how we live and guide our responses to life’s circumstances—the joyous occasions and the heart-rending tragedies.
How do we respond, for instance, when we are confronted by our fears? When we hear the devastating news that it’s cancer? When we suffer through painful losses? When we find ourselves face-to-face with our own mortality? As a pastor for more than twenty-five years, I have walked with many people through difficult valleys. These are the moments when our faith is put to the test, and our theology either sustains us or goes out the window.
When you give a donation to Focal Point this month, I would like to send you a copy of a book that demonstrates the practical relevance of the Bible to our lives: My God is True: Lessons Learned Along Cancer’s Dark Road. As a 28-year-old newlywed and seminary student, Paul Wolfe was stunned by his diagnosis of cancer. This book chronicles his journey and the questions he wrestled with along the way.
Perhaps you are currently facing a situation that is challenging you to come to grips with the biblical truths you acknowledge in principle. I pray that when you experience uncertainty, doubt, or insecurities, you will remember the unchanging truth of God’s Word. He is faithful to provide strength for today and hope for tomorrow.