2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers.
While in treatment for chemical dependency, I was taught that one of the pillars of recovery is to have a strong support group of family and friends. I know this to be true from my own experience of but I also know it to be true in observing those who do not have such support.
I have seen many leave jail or treatment with good intentions, only to relapse within days as they returned to friends and family who use. It is almost impossible to remain sober if one returns to a situation where drug use is part of everyday life.
It is our nature to be affected by the gravity of those around us. If our friends are living in pursuit of God and recovery, then we will be drawn to that. If those around us are pursuing a destructive lifestyle, it is inevitable that we will be influenced by that.
I am unsure how it works with women, but when I used to go out with the guys, we rarely spurred each other on to do good deeds. We were not purposefully destructive, but we very much encouraged each other in the pursuit of tobacco and alcohol. This is unfortunately, the nature of many of our relationships. As we naturally pursue the desires of our flesh, we encourage those around us to do likewise.
We do not like to struggle alone and we do not like to see the success of others while we are struggling. If our addictive behavior makes us feel guilty, we sooth our conscience with company. If we can get others to join us in our destruction, it seems less destructive.
In recovery and life then, I must be careful in my choice of friends and even family. I cannot choose who I am related to, but I must choose who I will spend my time with. Paul, in today’s passage, insisted on this. He said I am not to be attached to those headed in a different direction than I am. If the people I spend much of my time with are not living in pursuit of God, then I will find it much more difficult to move in that direction myself.
When I got out of treatment, I was blessed with a family who strongly supported my faith and recovery. I did however, need to construct a supportive network of friends. I have my Saturday morning coffee group, my jail meeting, AA and my church, all of whom are part of a support group, encouraging me to continue my pursuit of God instead of self.
If I want to stay sober and if I want to continue my pursuit of God, I must be a little ruthless in who I spend my time with. Though I do not ignore the rest of the world, it is completely appropriate that I maintain boundaries with those who would influence me towards destruction.
For the man coming out of jail with friends who use or drink, this presents a profound problem. If he wants to stay sober and if he wants to continue his pursuit of God, he must make radical choices to excise from his life, those who would drag him down.
Likewise, I must surround myself with those who are headed in the direction I want to go. I must daily, do whatever it takes to keep my life pointed at God.