Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fellowship Matters (or... does it?)

This is a subject that seems to come up quite frequently in conversations online and off. I'm not sure what the proper term for it might be called, but I've heard it called seperation, secondary seperation, guilt by association, and all sorts of other things. Essentially what it boils down to is one really important question:

Does it matter who you associate with?

Every time this subject comes up, someone will inevitably respond with "Jesus hung out with prostitues!" to sort of defend the idea that it doesn't matter who you associate with because, well... Jesus hung out with prostitutes. Every time I hear that I think to myself "no, He did not "hang out" with prostitutes, He ministered to them and there is a difference". In my mind, "hanging out" with someone is going where they go, doing what they do, relating to them because you speak the same language they do and have the same interests that they have. That is not what Jesus did when He was seen with what most would call the lower rung of society. He ministered words of hope to them because that's what they needed most. That's a lot different than "hanging out" with them.

So then, does it matter who we associate with? I believe that it does. I believe we're not supposed to be giving anyone else cause to speculate about our walk with the Lord (intentionally or unintentionally) and I believe who we chose to associate with also by default will be the kind of people that influence us. If we're associating with people who do not influence us in good ways, it most certainly matters. I've thought a lot about this subject over the last year or two as I've even been put under a spotlight due to some of my own associations.

With that said, I wonder how my readers might respond to this very real scenario that comes up all the time.

Let's say you were invited to speak at a Christian function (ladies, for you it's a women's retreat for women only). Let's say at this function that the other speakers are people of seriously questionable doctrine and theology. All of the speakers are well-known in the Christian community, and all of them have less than stellar reputations within this community (due to their questionable doctrine, practices or associations with other folks just like them).

Do you:

A.) accept the invitation regardless of who else is speaking and hope that what you have to offer ministers grace and truth to the hearer (including any of the other speakers that may be there listening to your message)

or

B.) immediately decline the invitation because you do not wish to be associated in any way with this group of people and by extension, cause undo questioning and controversy

Maybe there is a C as well, but I really couldn't think of one. So I'm curious, what would you do, and why?


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