Last week at Wednesday Night Worship we began a new series called "Threads" focusing on the friends we need in our lives. We began with a worship set that included "Everlasting God" (Lincoln Brewster), "Running Home" (They Came Running), and "One Thing Remains" (Kristian Stanfill). I then explained that this series will focus on our friends. I grabbed a spool of thread and showed how 1 single thread breaks easily, however when combined with several it becomes stronger. True life change happens best in the context of community as we are surrounded by other Christians who are godly influences. The friends in your life will have the greatest influence on you. Andy Stanley said "Your friends will determine the quality and direction of your life." Some of the most heartbreaking moments I have experienced in youth ministry have been when I see a student who takes a different path in life due to a friend's negative influence. A couple of questions I asked the students to consider: 1) What are the qualities I look for in a friend? and 2) Do your friends have godly, biblical characteristics?
We looked at Proverbs 13:20 and I gave some background on Solomon and his wisdom. This verse gives us a promise and a warning. The promise is that wisdom is contagious. A good definition of wisdom is the ability to discern and know the difference between right and wrong, and actually doing it. Knowledge does not equal wisdom. When we surround ourselves with wise people then it is contagious. If we subject ourselves to wisdom then we will also become wise.
The warning is that if we surround ourselves with fools that we will suffer harm. A fool can be defined as someone who knows the difference between right and wrong but does not care. I believe there are two ways that you may suffer harm if you surround yourself with fools:
1) You will begin to mimic their foolish ways. You will talk, think, and act like them.
2) When the fools life explodes, and it will explode, you will get hit by the shrapnel of the situation. You will get hurt when their life falls apart. You will experience the negative effects of their hitting rock bottom.
You must be careful who you allow in your inner circle of friends because it will be either positive or detrimental. I was very intentional to make sure the students heard me on this. I wanted them to be sure they did not hear me incorrectly and believe that they are to completely turn their back on these people. Instead we need to love them, pray for them, serve them, and point them to Jesus. However, you must distance yourself from them.
We closed in a time of prayer. I asked the students to think about their inner circle of friends and to consider if they have godly characteristics. I asked them to consider what kind of influence their friends are having on them. It is at this point in a student's life that their path can be drastically changed by turning just a few degrees away from Jesus.