Bad Company Can Destroy An Individual

What happens when you want a new look? You go into your wardrobe, take all of yesterdays clothes hanging there and get rid of them, right? Same thing when seeking out a new way of life. In you go to your list of friends and relations and sever the relationship. You may not be able to avoid the world, but you can minimize the damage done to your salvation by doing this. Cut off whatever it is that causes you to sin. Cut off your right hand, pluck out your eye should any of this cause you to sin was taken literally by many of Jesus followers.

Jesus himself being someone who mingled with sinners also warns against forming friendships with those not good for the soul. plucking out ones eyes and cutting off ones hands is really Jesus teaching us that we should sever relationships that are extremely close and difficult to eliminate. How hard would it be to cut off your own hand and pluck out your actual eyes? His listeners must’ve been disgusted hearing that one and it was designed to shock and elicit a disturbed response.

When someone tells you that you may have to breakaway from your own mother and father and siblings who are a bad influence on your spiritual growth how hard is it to obey that one? You show disgust for it and say, “But that’s my father (right hand) and she’s my mother (eyes) I couldn’t possibly cut it off. This man is my best friend(legs) and that other guy my brother (ears). Is cutting off your own hand a painful experience? yes, in the beginning, but through time it heals and you learn to live without it. Same with people. You learn to live without them even though the initial breakaway is painful. Time is a great healer.

It does not just mean physical relationships but the relationship one has with sin and worldliness in his soul. Pride, envy and false ideas about love, sex and joy are all bad friends as well, you know? But in this post I use it to focus on the case of bad friends. Saint Paul says it to the Corinthians, “Bad friends ruin the noblest of people”. While St.Paul often reminds us we cannot avoid the world and everyone in it, he also advises we shouldn’t associate with people, especially fellow Christians who behave badly and act as an obstacle to spiritual growth.

St.Anthony of Padua did this. His mother and father kept coming to the monastery to visit him so he packed his bags and ran far away from them to another monastery. Ouch. Hard to hear isn’t it? But such is the radical change needed in ones life if they want to follow Christ. Conversion is not something to toy with, it needs to be radical. It’s necessary to sacrifice friendships and certain addictions if it’s going to be a conversion. Many cults require this of their followers but as a means to control them further into their wicked doctrines. But Jesus wants us to do this to liberate our souls from control of the world and its evil doctrines.

When Jesus says people who leave children and wives for his glory he really means it. He’s not speaking only spiritually where one removes oneself from them that way but physically also. It’s no joke and it’s a serious calling. You cannot mingle salt water with fresh water they’ve nothing in common. When we become Christian although we are called to evangelize the world it doesn’t mean we have one foot in the Church and one in the world. It doesn’t work like that. Our commitment to change like that of St.Anthony of Padua or another swiss Saint (I can’t remember his name) who left his family of ten kids needs to be radical.

But the decision to sever relationships requires a good spiritual director who can see the justification in doing so. There are times when people sever their relationship with others because of minor weaknesses. These people are incapable at socializing with others. In this instance a person needs to be helped in overcoming that so that he doesn’t feed a delusion rather than a conversion. But where we have a case of friendships that serve only to drag one back into the darkness that must be addressed and severed quickly.

For example during my approach to the Catholic faith I had only begun praying the rosary and reading some books. I hadn’t quite made any transition and was not going to Mass. I had a friend of many years who loved to frequent brothels and spend time with prostitutes. He wanted me to come along with him and he was paying for all the pleasure. I did just that. I went with him and we stood outside and nobody answered the door. God had protected me that evening.

Then as my prayer increased and I began to grow closer to the faith I got another call from him. I answered the phone and while looking at an image of Jesus, told him no. From that day forward our relationship was severed. Goodbye world, time for a new me, a new Stephen. It is now time to open that closet and get rid of the rags of an impoverished soul and put on the noble robe of virtue. I got rid of them all. In fact, the great thing about being Christian is that there’s no great effort needed in getting rid of people, they naturally go away all by themselves.

Then I cut away sexual desires such as masturbation and alcohol. It was not just friendships I needed to address but the close relation I had to certain addictions and worldly doctrines. After my conversion I made many enemies all of whom I hang as trophies and who only serve to help make the radical change more complete. Jesus wasn’t joking when he said that brother and sister and father and mother will dislike you. That really happened me with my brother calling the police and trying to admit me to a mental hospital. After your conversion you become disillusioned with the world and begin to ask yourself, “Am I crazy? Or are all of them crazy?”

And you discover they are. . . they’re crazy and the only path to sanity is to have a major change and repent. Repentance is more than a simple change in ones behaviour, it is where you no longer cry for yourself and the world around you, but for Christ on the cross. Your tears are no longer worldly but of Divine origin. You shed tears for Christ and the pain he experiences daily at being nailed to the Cross by your sins and that of the worlds. They’re tears that are mingled with joy.

You must seek it out. Look for it, ask for it. Repentance is a Grace and if you knock enough times the Lord will give it to you. While asking get into that closet and show the Lord you mean business. Burn those useless clothes that have long been out of fashion since the beginning of the world and put on the new modern timeless clothes of Christian virtue. That’s a wardrobe you’ll be happy to have.

The friend who deals cocaine? GET RID OF HIM
The friend who frequents brothels? GET RID OF HIM
The Mother who constantly throws drugs at you? GET AWAY FROM HER
The Father whose gambling is a cause for your downfall? GET AWAY FROM HIM

Strike a nice balance between meeting with sinners and developing friendships always reminding yourself of St.Pauls advice that, “Bad friends ruin the noblest of people”. If you are Christian you are now a noble, do not set your hand to the plough and look back at the peasantry of worldly doctrines. Let it go and be liberated. You’re no longer tied to the need of other humans and “friends” for your happiness. You’re free.

Image by kalhh from Pixabay

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