Have you noticed that when something is going on in the street in a middle class area, the curtains twitch? Everyone wants to know what’s happening, but don’t want to be seen as nosey! In a working class area it’s very different. The folk all tumble out onto the street and have a good gawp! Some young neighbours of ours fell foul of this custom once, when they got too close to the action, and got caught up into police custody along with the trouble makers. Not wise!
It really can be unwise to get too close to bad stuff. And bad people. It’s a dangerous place, as some of the slaves found to their great cost (Exodus 9:20-21). Those slaves had no choice; they did not choose their slave status, and could not choose their owners. Their masters decided to leave them out, so out they stayed, and suffered. Most of us do have choices though about who we associate with. Of course, we do need to mix with folk who don’t know God yet, or how would we ever get to share our faith with them?
It’s fairly easy to see that some folk are downright unsavoury, and whilst we might engage with them occasionally as opportunities or necessities arise, most Christians are rarely tempted to spend much time in their company just for the fun of it. But there are plenty of people who are not obviously evil. Decent folk living decent lives. But folk who don’t listen to God. How close should we get? When we are with them, do they encourage us to come closer to God, or pull back? Does the conversation with them help us to love our neighbour more, or does it lead to gossip, negative attitudes and looking down on others?
The significant thing is that we should influence them more than they influence us. That’s the only way that the ‘salt’ or ‘light’ that we are called to be, can be effective. Lord, give me wisdom in my relationships with others, and help me to be the head and not the tail.