When I was little, I remember thinking that I could run out in the rain and not get wet. I thought I could track each raindrop as it fell and dodge out of the way. I really did. I thought I could zig-zag: left, right, left, left, right–like a soldier under fire–and not get hit.
The problem is I still think like that in some ways. I think a lot of us do. I think I can pick up whatever book, watch whatever movie, play whatever video game and nothing bad about it will rub off on me. In other words, I’m sixty-two years old and find myself still thinking that I can run out in the rain and not get wet.
I believe the Apostle Paul is talking about this kind of thing when he says, “Do not be deceived. Bad company corrupts good morals” (1 Cor 15:33). We immediately understand the “bad company” part, even though we don’t believe it in practice. But why does he first say, “Do not be deceived?” I think because we are deceived, constantly, into thinking that we’re grown-up and bullet-proof and nothing bad is going to rub off on us no matter what kind of company we keep. No matter what TV shows we watch, no matter what novels we read (my failing), no matter what video games we play. We convince ourselves that we can easily maintain our own, better, higher, individual point-of-view regardless of the electronic, literary, imaginary, and physical company we keep.
But have you ever watched as a friend starts hanging out with a new group of people? How your friend starts picking up the way that group talks? Their gestures? I think the simple fact is that human beings are sponges.. We absorb what’s around us and start becoming like the company we keep. No matter the medium in which we hang out with our new friends. No matter how old we are.
There’s no way around this. It’s human nature. So what do we do? I think we need to admit that we’re still little kids in some ways and submit ourselves to the same kinds of safeguards that little kids need, like older-brother Paul said. Make sure we play where it’s safe: on the playground prepared for us, instead of out in the street. Listen to Daddy’s warnings about who to play with. Let Him introduce us to good friends in every medium. Don’t sneak behind His back to watch that scary, nasty stuff on TV. Don’t play electronically at doing things He’s forbidden us to do really. That kind of thing.
Sounds boring and ridiculous for adults, doesn’t it? But really, when it comes to this kind of thing, some adults are not very adult at all. I know for sure that I’m not. I’m dripping wet.