Clay Finklea

Clay Finklea

Lead This Gen Pastor

If you show me who your friends are, I will tell you who you are.

I both love and loathe the term, “Show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are.” 

On one hand, it is a great phrase because the people that we hang out with, have the highest probability of influencing us. Think about it… the restaurants that you like, the movies that you watch, the teams that you root for are all often influenced by a friend in your life. It’s a community that you build and grow together out of camaraderie. That’s something that we all need desperately. We need people that we can grow together with who will influence us positively. 

On the other hand, it’s a terrible phrase because it is telling you that if someone doesn’t have it all together, then you shouldn’t spend time with them. They will drag you down, hurt you, cause you to sin, and cause you unwanted issues. Inevitably, in some regards that is true. You are putting yourself in a higher risk position. However, if you are unwilling to help anyone grow because you don’t want to get dragged down… Aren’t you missing the point? Thus, I have always loved and loathed this phrase. 

All that being said – This week’s reading in Quest, opened my mind to a new reality about this statement. 

What if this statement is profound in helping us realize that community is a paradox? The paradox is that yes you absolutely need a community that will help you out, but you also absolutely need a community that you can help out. 

In Mark 2:1-17, you see both kinds of community groups at play here. 

The paralyzed man was stuck, figuratively and literally, in his current position. The only thing that could help him was to experience Jesus. The problem was that he had no clue how. He couldn’t get there and once he did, the crowds were so thick that there was no way through. So his friends did the only logical thing and dug a hole in the roof to lower him in front of Jesus. Of course as you read, this led to him being not only forgiven of his sins, but healed of his paralysis. His life situation dramatically changed over the course of a few moments. But none of it was possible without his group of friends. 

I don’t know what your situation is currently, but I do know that there are times where we all feel completely stuck. Those moments are hard, uncomfortable, and ultimately you would do anything to get out of them. If you are like me though, oftentimes you don’t know how to get out of them. The reason you don’t know how to get out of them is because without a community to help point you to Jesus, chances are, you can’t get out of them! That’s why you need people around you helping you get to Jesus. 

Show me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are. 

It works here because it showed that the paralytic man and his friends were of great faith. Your community can get you where you need to go. 

This is where people get in trouble though. They get so afraid of the dangers of not being with a perfect community that they put themselves in a little bubble. In theory it’s great because you are separating yourself from sin and the “dangers of this world.” But the reality is that you are eliminating one major aspect of following Jesus.

As Jesus said in Mark 2:17, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor – sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.” Jesus didn’t leave his bubble to be in a bubble. Jesus doesn’t want you to live a life separated from the dangers of this world because those dangers need someone who is dangerous enough to shake up the status quo and change their lives. 

Look at what Matthew did in verse 15, “He invited Jesus and his disciples to his home along with with many tax collectors and other disreputable people.” 

Frankly, we don’t have a full understanding of what occurred at this dinner other than the religious leaders being angry. But that’s not the point. Matthew invited Jesus to be in a room with a bunch of unwanted, looked down upon, sinful people so that they could see who changed his life. If Matthew doesn’t do that, they never get to experience Jesus. 

If you show me who your friends are, I will tell you who you are. 

Matthew showed us his friends and we can confidently say that he loved his people, wanted them to experience Jesus, and that he was real about his faith. 

Do you have a group of friends or people that you know that you have been avoiding? Maybe it’s time for you to extend your friendship out to them once again. They need you. You might say, “But Clay, what if they cause me to stumble into sin again.” Notice what Matthew did. Matthew didn’t just go back, he went back with Jesus. That’s the key. That’s how you influence someone to experience Jesus. 

I’m going to challenge you this week to take some inventory on who your friends are. Most of the time that means you need to eliminate friends. I don’t think that is the case this time. No you may need to actually add friends this time. 

Have a group of people who will help you experience Jesus. Have a group of people that you can help experience Jesus. 

That’s what community is all about. Let’s go and get it.