This morning, as I read the opening words of Psalm 1, I thought to myself, “What does it take to become mature in Christ – and by extension, what makes us immature?” In part, Psalm 1 points to company we keep.
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
Psalm 1:1-2 (NIV)
For the first part of the question (“What does it take to become mature in Christ?”) I had some answers.
The second part of the question (“What makes us immature?”) held me for a moment. In fact, it poked at me. Every time I believe I’ve become more mature in Christ, some circumstance, fear (rational or irrational), or peace-tipping conversation messes with my highest held views of myself, and I become a spiritual infant in my own eyes once again.
While there are many things that can “de-mature” us as we walk with Jesus, Psalm 1:1-2 makes one set of them clear: the company we keep.
The company we keep is not just in person; we also share company with other souls on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, over text, and in the worlds we choose to access via Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney, in the podcasts we listen to, and more.
Just because someone is a media personality, is acting out a script, or is skilled with their words and thought, does not make them “not a soul.”
They are part of the company we keep.
Psalm 1 begins by telling us to choose that company wisely, lest we lose some of the maturity we may have gained.
In my experience, I need to keep company with the faithful, with the “I’m holding onto the hem of Jesus’ garment until He blesses me” kind of people. I need to keep company with those who will offer hard words to me about the company I’m keeping – even challenging me and making me uncomfortable with some of my choices.
The “blessed” word at the beginning of this passage speaks, ultimately, of being blessed with the presence and nearness of God. All blessing comes back to this, and suffering can lead us there as much as success (in fact, potentially more often).
We all want to be near God, and to sense God near, but there is some cost to that experience measured in the currency of the company we keep: how we do relationships and interact with other souls in the world.
Jesus spent much time walking, standing, and sitting with those the Pharisees called “sinners.” But as the Son of God, He was the Culture-Maker in the room – and they all knew it and loved Him for it.
He influenced – rather than opening Himself to being influenced by their broken patterns. He was surely moved by their lives, but He had the capacity to see the temptations that came with relating on that turf and to manage them well before His Father.
When we take strolls with souls who deny God is at work in their lives (or in practice define god as their family and friends; that’s a thing today), or even use God talk without evidencing the fruit of the Spirit that apparently accompanies we who live in the presence of God, we start to become like our stroll-mates.
When we hang around people who make various forms of sin their norm and repentance the exception, we start to lose our own lines in the sand and cross them without thinking. (Netflix is helping many of us cross internal lines we never thought we would before.)
When we sit down and share a cup of virtual, social-media coffee with someone who scoffs at the sacred and deifies a “good life” that is foreign to the “good life” the Gospel offers, we have to be present to the fact that we may be changed, quietly and subtly, in our views on precious things.
Jesus, I want to walk with You through this world, engaging with the presence of my Creator rather than becoming lost through my haphazard engagements with others. Re-define my relationships and ways of relating for me, that I may experience the blessing of one who delights in Your ways and Your Word.
I walk with You, my Lord Jesus, and choose You as my primary company,