Our world has always been changing and the change has accelerated over the last several decades. Our world today would be very different for a time traveler even from the 90’s. Yet, while everything is changing, nothing has changed. Yes, the spiritual or cultural challenges that we struggle with are different, but the core challenge has remained unchanged. This is true when it comes to the “company that I keep.”
Maybe you have heard this saying about the importance of the relationships in your lives. “Bad company ruins good morals.” (1 Corinthians 15:33) If your parents were like mine, they encouraged me to be selective about my “friends.” I know that for me, disregarding the truth of this verse, was detrimental for me as a young man. My friends influenced the choices that I made. The reciprocal was true of my influence on them. We traveled down a path that would cost several in our “group” their lives. Now, this is not saying that we should not have relationship with those that do not yet know Jesus. It is a reminder to be careful with those that influence your choices.
I was recently struck by this truth from the words of the psalmist Asaph in Psalm 50. It is a Psalm written to God’s people Israel, those that knew Him. The Lord describes a court room scene and reminds them of their accountability to Him. His charges are related to the superficial formalism of their relationship with Him. They missed that a relationship with the Creator is the surrender of the heart. But it is what the Lord focuses on next that stood out to me.
It was the inconsistencies in their life choices. They talked the talk and even put on a good show but lacked a consistent practice of their faith. Particularly in the selection of their companions. “If you see a thief, you are pleased with him, and you keep company with adulterers.” (Psalm 50:18) It hit me of some of the present dangers, that you might be unaware of. It is the dangers of our companions in the digital realm, our relationship with our screen. The challenge is to not only do and say that right things around other Christians or on Sundays, but when no one is looking. The dangerous companions of our modern world hide in the shadows of our individualism and privacy. Our threat is no longer limited to flesh and blood, but the social media apps, video games and personalized digital content that lures us into forbidden places. It is not long before we are enslaved to the high from content only available from our digital dealers.
It is in the collision of the ancient and the modern that we are reminded that while everything has changed, nothing has changed. The importance of my companions still matter. It is a choice that only you can make. The Lord’s invitation to the Israelis can be applied to His followers today. “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”(Psalm 50:23) So who are the companions you choose to keep?
-Pastor Joe Parkinson