Who are our companions?
Yesterday we talked about the idea of companions – not being people but instead referring to the attributes that characterize our lives. We were looking at affliction and used the example of Frodo and the Company of the Ring. The journey he volunteered to undertake to destroy the ring of power (affliction) was made so much better by the companions who began the journey with him. Instead of Gandalf, Aragorn, Sam, etc… we considered joy, hope, patience, faithfulness and prayer as the ‘companions’ of affliction and how powerfully they impact our lives (Romans 12:12).
This idea of referring to attributes as ‘companions’ has really captured me because I’ve never thought of it this way before. If you’re a parent and your child is going out to be with friends, you’ve asked that child who are they going to be with – who are they hanging out with? When the son or daughter provides the names of the friends, it’s not the names that are so important; it’s the attributes we associate with those names that characterize those individuals. Do they have good character? What kind of reputation do they have?
Likewise, who are our ‘companions’? Consider the ‘companions’ listed in these two verses:
Colossians 3:5a Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.
Colossians 3:12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
This reminds me of the red and white stones I encountered on my trip to Afghanistan in 2007. We visited villages far from metropolitan areas. Along side some of the roads we traveled on were sections where every few yards there were small stones that had a brush-stroke of paint on them. The stones were painted either red or white. What did they mean?
Afghanistan had experienced years and years of war resulting in many minefields – areas where explosive devices had been planted. The white stones indicated fields that the military had ‘swept’, meaning they had been cleared of the mines. The red stones indicated fields that had not been swept free of mines. To walk in those areas marked by the red stones would likely result in serious injury or death. No matter where we were going we paid attention to red stones and avoided those areas.
The Scriptures warn us that the earthly nature ‘companions’ of the first verse are ‘red stones’; they result in serious harm and we are warned to avoid those ‘fields’. Those of the second verse are ‘white stones’ but they are so much more than merely the absence of the bad. They don’t just reflect a ‘mineless’ field where the serious dangers have been removed, but fruitful fields. The ‘white stones’ are the presence of the good – the qualities God desires and commands us to develop.
Who are our companions? Do we surround ourselves with white stones? Or do we have a mixture of red and white stones? – meaning we have danger areas in our lives that can cause great harm both to ourselves and those around us. Jesus wants our ‘fields’ swept clean!