Luke 15:1–2 (NRSV)
15 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him. 2 And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
“Be careful the company you keep” is probably not an unfamiliar expression for us. “You don’t want to get caught up in the wrong crowd” is another way to say it.
But if we are not careful these wise words of warning about being swayed by others to act inappropriately can lead to building up walls around our life and digging moats around our interactions that prevents us from being used as a witness.
Jesus had a better idea when he said to be “in the world but not of it.” Fully integrated and fully separate. Involved and yet disconnected. It seems to be a contradiction and it is only possible through the power of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives. Remaining connected to God allows us to give ourselves fully to those around us.
Let me ask…how many friends, not acquaintances, but friends who are not people of faith? How many folks in your circle are from a different socio-economic circle? How many are outside your demographic and season of life?
This isn’t a guilt trip but hopefully a wake-up call. I don’t believe in diversity for diversity sake…that is box checking and not authentic. But I do believe in making our circles more inclusive of others outside our normal circle. If not, we become insulated and live with undiscovered blind spots because our perspective is so uniform.
Lord Jesus, you showed the way to live in this world and not be of it. You showed what is looks like to be available to others. May you do that same work in my life.