He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.—–Proverbs 13:20
Over the past few years I have been greatly concerned as I have learned more and more about the importance of whom we associate with both as individuals as well as our churches. This can be as simple as who we listen to for advice, to who is leading and teaching us, to even what books and authors we recommend. In the end, our associations matter greatly.
One of my weaknesses has always been trusting people at their word. What I mean by this, for example, is that if someone says they are a “follower of Jesus” I have believed that they understand that to mean the same thing I do. In the end, however, I find out they have meant something drastically different. It hasn’t been until the past few years that I have realized that it isn’t enough to use the same terminology and believe we mean the same things. This has led to having to re-think my associations/endorsements and what each person and church truly believes.
The task required that I revisit the pastors, leaders, authors, churches, and others whom I thought were pretty decent to research more about who they are what what they believe as well as their associations and endorsements. I began to realize that even though there may have been points of agreement from an article or book I read or even a sermon I heard, as I looked into their theology and beliefs, I found out that some or most of what they may have been saying wasn’t even Biblical. To say the least, this scared me and still continues to challenge me all the more to take the serious call to check everything and everyone out against the Bible.
Today, I can honestly say there are but a handful of people that I would say that I feel good about being associated with and even endorse. I am much more cautious now than I used to be because of the types of things being proclaimed in the world and in the church as “Christianity”. I don’t mind being critical and skeptical because of the fact that there is a great attack against the Truth. And as time goes along, more and more mainstream churches and denominations are embracing and endorsing those they should be ashamed of. They feel it is enough that they are “living the way of Christ” and that the things we may disagree on are “non-essentials” of faith. I am here to tell you that this is very dangerous and will eventually lead to apostasy and universalism. It isn’t enough that we may have a similar “mission” if we are linking arms with those of other faiths or even those claiming to be “Christians” if their understanding of Jesus and the Gospel isn’t upheld Biblically.
This also isn’t to say that just because someone is associated with or endorsing a certain person, church, or organization, they are outside of Biblical Christianity. If, however, I have begun to see a pattern or trend in who or whom they are surrounding themselves with, that puts up a red flag. That is when I begin to dig deeper to see if this is just by chance, being naive, or if it is more intentional as to associating and endorsing those with whom they are in full agreement.
I have great concern over the Emergent/Emerging church movement, the Prayer/Worship movement, the “Missional” movement, the Signs and Wonders/Charismatic movement, and many others. Their leaders, whom many times don’t like to be pinned down into a certain camp, have great influence over many people. Many of their associations and endorsements point to much of what they believe because they surround themselves with their beliefs and teachings. They gather together and invite one another to their conferences and events. Many flock to their churches and read their books. There is a great attack against the Church and if we aren’t careful, we will be among those swept away in their smooth and flattering speech.
We are in some pretty crazy times. Protests and chaos are spreading around the world at an alarming rate. There is a move for the hearts and minds of people. Pastors and leaders are aligning themselves as well. The challenge before us is to earnestly contend for the Truth. We must diligently research people, their beliefs and teachings, and their associations if we are to uphold and follow the true Gospel. Associations do matter greatly. We must encourage those that preach the Truth and ditch each and every one leading to heresy.