The title of this article is a question often asked by people who have come to a crossroad in life, whether it be in a relationship, work, finances and I am sure the list could go on. The question is an attempted to try and reflect in some fashion so as to understand how such a thing could have happened; that is, how one got to that point. The history of God’s people reveals all too well part of the reason behind such crossroads. The close of Judges is a reflection of that very thing as we read, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). Our theme verse from Lamentations is written at a time when Jerusalem is destroyed, and its people are brought into captivity. How did they get there? The leadership of God’s people then may carry some of the blame. Jeremiah writes of how God’s people “rebelled against His commandments” (Lam. 1:18) and how the people had become “very rebellious” (Lam. 1:20). One thing is for sure, change, good or bad, is never absent of influence.
Don’t be fooled; “Bad friends will ruin good habits.”
1st Corinthians 15:33, ETRV
In Deuteronomy 7:3 God’s people were cautioned as they prepared to take possession of the promised land to not intermarry with their enemies because “they will turn your sons away from following Me.” Solomon, in all his splendor, was influenced by his many foreign wives and “turned his heart after other gods; and his heart was not loyal to the Lord his God” (1st Kings 11:4). Let’s be honest, we are influenced by our surroundings. Paul cautioned the church in Corinth, as they battled with the idea of the resurrection, not to be “fooled” or as my NKJV says, “deceived.” This word carries the idea of being led away from the truth. How was this taking place? By the people they were regularly engaging with, the so called “friends” that were being a bad influence on them. Such influence can “ruin” or “corrupt” good habits, which in the case of the church in Corinth, was their understanding of the resurrection to come upon Christ’s return.
Throughout time, God has cautioned His people about the possible effects of our world’s influence and history has shown us the painful truth of this reality. The remembrance of D-Day, and the profound influence Hitler had on people, is a clear reminder of this fact. As the saying goes, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.” The simple truth is that we are people who not only are called to influence the world as Christians, be that light and salt (Matthew 5:14-16), but that we ourselves need to be cautioned about being influenced. For how we got where we are, is directly related to the things that have influenced us the most in our lives. So, what is influencing you the most in your life?