Itís good to have friends. Iím glad I have some. Friends can be a great encouragement for good. But friends can also be a source of temptation as well.
I remember in my Junior year of High School how I enjoyed going to Taco Bell for lunch with some friends. Some of these friends I had known since grade school. They were the ďpopularĒ crowd. I didnít hang out with them much, but I enjoyed going to Taco Bell and they were the ride, so, I went with them. The ďEnchiritoĒ was my favorite item (with two packets of Taco Bell sauce; they didnít have mild, medium and hot back then).
It was enjoyable riding in the car with them and visiting. Most of the time, the fun was squeaky clean. Then, one day, they said to me, ďYou need to go out with us some night.Ē There was a new thought. I didnít think I would be invited to do that. It was a tempting thought because I enjoyed being with them. I told them that I would think about it, but didnít give a definite answer. You see, they knew who I was. They knew where I worshipped. Some had even visited our congregation before. They knew my standards and what I stood for.
Then one day, out of the blue, we were in one of those conversations where everything was kind of crazy and fun. I ended up saying some things that I shouldnít have said. Interestingly enough, instead of them going along with it, they looked at me all bug eyed and slack jawed. They were shocked. They never thought that I would have said such things.
They weren't the only ones who were shocked. I was shocked too. I didnít think that I would ever have behaved that way. But I had. They had had an influence on me even though it was mostly (99%) innocent fun. It was the other 1% that was harmful that had had its effect.
I decided that as much as I loved Taco Bell, that I would have to stop going with them to lunch. They came and asked me why. I told them it was because of my bad behavior and I wouldnít be going anymore. You see, it wasnít because I didnít like them, but because I did. They had influenced me to do something that I would not have done had I not been in their company. I considered that I could still go to lunch with them and influence them for good, but I decided that my own soul wasnít worth the risk. They had influenced me for evil and it had to stop.
Itís good to have friends. We all need them. But we need to be aware that peer pressure doesnít have to be overt. It can be subtle and one never know what has happened until it is too late.