Go Hang Out With Losers
RELEVANT magazine posted an article last week, “You Are Who Your Friends Are.”
After talking to a bunch of prisoners, the author says, “The real reason they were in prison was not because they had committed crimes, though they had, but rather it was because of the people they hung out with.” He then implies that we should dump friends we don’t want to become and acquire holier pals.
This sort of advice is dished out to Christian adolescents constantly. He has a point: our friends influence us, and we should make it a point to draw close to those we admire. Friends are vital to your walk with Christ.
But do you see what’s missing? Such advice suggests we audit our relationships with a simple cost-benefit analysis, eagerly discarding those not righteous enough to benefit our character. It’s all about us.
This behavior fails a simple Jesus test. Jesus was regularly caught hanging around society’s scum. When the religious elite questioned this, he put them in their place.
And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Too many of us have become like doctors at doctors’ conventions, healthy folks sitting around sipping tea and crumpets in our exclusive club while the sick are dying in the streets. They need us. And we need them, lest the Church become what Martin Luther King Jr. called “an irrelevant social club.” Let us not permit our laziness to masquerade as wisdom. The road to hell is marked “practicality.”