Guest post from my husband, David Evert
My family thoroughly enjoyed attending our first graduation event of the year last night. I found the parental exhortations to the graduates to be quite interesting. Many parents spoke of the need to find friends who truly love Christ and the graduates were encouraged to get involved in positive groups on campus.
The central message seemed to be, “You become like your friends so choose your friends and those you ally with wisely. They will have a great impact on you.”
These thoughts resonated with me, particularly since I just finished reading Alex Chediak’s book Preparing Your Teens for College. Chediak said something similar in a recent interview on the Ligonier website: “Socially, our teens must understand that close friendships have a profound impact on their character (Proverbs 13:20). Therefore they ought to be formed with care.”~Alex Chediak
When Molly and I look back on our college experience we can see the truth of this. Despite the amount of time spent in class it wasn’t our major field of study or the professors who taught us that had the most profound impact on us. Those who influenced us most were the friends we chose to spend our free hours with. The impact of those friends reverberates to this day.
In our case it was generally for the good, but we all know sad situations where unwise friendships did not lead to the young person’s good. In each case they couldn’t see the peril of the path they were on until they reached a dark place.
Our relationships in this world so closely follow the classic Christian book Pilgrim’s Progress. There is a major difference, however. In the book you can tell a person’s character by their name. “Faithful” is obviously a good companion for Christian to walk with, while “Hypocrisy” is a companion he should avoid. Sounds easy, right? The problem for Christian is that he doesn’t see it. The reader can see the character of Christian’s companions plain as day but Christian has to figure it out for himself as he goes along. The same is true for us and this poses challenges.
As I heard this theme expounded upon last night I couldn’t help but think that this is a message for us all. Yes, it is extremely timely for the graduates who have to form friendships in a new location. But I would argue it is just as important for our younger teens who are preparing to enter High School. They will also be shaped by those they choose to befriend.
It is also a message for us “older folks”. We might laugh at the thought of being influenced by “peer pressure” in the same way our 14-year-old or 18-year-old selves were. It is true, in many ways we are beyond that.
However, as an adult we must admit that the consequences of walking with and identifying with those who do not love the truth are even more dire. I cannot seem to go much more than a year without hearing about adultery and divorce touching the life of someone I care about. Those things don’t happen without adults making unwise relationship choices which likely appeared benign at first. Lacking wisdom in the relational area of life is just as devastating, if not moreso, to adults who should know better.
Young or old, the friends we choose also say something about us. Are we choosing to spend our time with those who are passionate for the Lord? If we are not, we must consider the possibility that despite our words we may yet love this world a bit too much.
If we do not strive to be close with those who sharpen us (Proverbs 27:17) we may be tempted towards compromise with the world or to “coast” and live our Christian lives on “yesterday’s faith” and “yesterday’s victories”. We can become Christian versions of the stereotypical star high school athlete who thinks his glory days are all behind him and who has nothing going of note for himself today, nor dreams for the future.
Of course the truth for the Christian is that our “glory days” are all ahead of us.
Like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress we journey towards a better kingdom than this one. Our choice of companions will go a long way towards helping or hindering us in our spiritual progress as we journey towards that final and glorious destination.
“Let those be thy choicest companions who have made Christ their chief companion.”~Thomas Brooks