Have you ever heard the idea that people and their pets begin to look alike? I did a quick search on that topic and I found this picture from a dog food ad. I don’t know if that’s real, but that’s pretty funny.
This came to mind when I heard Mike Slaughter say something in a sermon this morning. He said if you are married and you primarily hang around with a whole bunch of people who are recently divorced and/or have marriage problems themselves, odds are that if you don’t have marriage problems – you soon will. If you hang around a bunch of people who are irresponsible with their finances and/or are always in financial trouble, the odds of you having financial problems yourself increase. If you do drugs and keep hanging around others who do drugs, what are the odds that you will ever quit doing drugs? Or if someone does not do drugs, but all their friends do – what do you predict will happen?
On the other hand, if you are hanging around with people who love Jesus, people who go on mission trips, people who help at the homeless shelter, people who go to church, what’s going to happen? Odds are you will begin to “look like” those whom you spend the most time with.
It’s one of the reasons I love our Wednesday night dinners. People in our church and community now have the opportunity to hang around other church people twice a week. It’s one of the reasons I look forward to some small groups beginning in our church.
And I’m not saying we should not have friends who do not go to church. We absolutely should. I’m not saying if you have a friend who’s getting divorced that you ditch them! I’m saying that you bring them into your group of church friends to lift them up and encourage them. You don’t console them at the bar with a whole bunch of other people who have marriage problems. You’re not that strong, nor am I.
I hope I’m getting my point across today. I’m not saying the church is a place full of a bunch of perfect people. People who go to church are not better than those who go to the bar. I admit there are some judgemental and mean people in every church. But they are not the majority. Most of the people (at least in our church) are people seeking to live and enjoy a life pleasing to Jesus. And the church is certainly a place where your odds of heading in the right direction exponentially increase. The church is a place where we can journey through life together, seeking to live a life of contentment serving Jesus. And if you will come to church, or if you will bring your friends who are going through hard times to church, I know you will find that it is a step in the right direction.