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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