But as an adult I have played this game myself. I've dated stupid people. I've ignored the danger signs of people who do not have my best interest at heart. I've driven too fast, partied too late and failed to do what I've said I would do. And none of that made me feel more loved or important or worthwhile, but I've been slow to walk away.
And I have not died though I certainly could have because life is fragile, and dying is not the worse thing I have seen come out of foolish choices.
So how do I reconcile my prison ministry activities with St. Paul's advice* to "keep way from every form of evil"?
I'm not active in this ministry so I can win the approval of the folks who are struggling with incarceration and its many ancillary forms of destruction and damage. I'm there to offer an alternative life-view that may not have been discussed with someone before. I'm there to assure folks that they can not run so far, be so broken that God does not love them and long to restore them. Sometimes I get to see someone find hope and healing and rehabilitation as part of a program I'm involved with, but far more often I never know if someone finds it worthwhile or not, either now or in the future. I'm just here to lend a hand, not demand outcomes.
I have no problem welcoming into my church home and my life people who have been incarcerated and are seeking a new way of living. But I don't run the bars with them, both because I believe it is rude and dangerous for folks who are trying to build a new life, but also because it is foolish for me to introduce such an avenue for evil into our friendship. I'm just saying, more folks are finding cocaine in bars than in churches or AA in my experience.
When I am trying to honor the body that God has provided for me and develop healthy habits of eating and exercise, this is not the time to call up all my friends that mock that desire to improve, and set out to visit six BBQ joints in one day.
The evil is not the bar or the BBQ joint. It is the arrogance of not tending and caring for our own well-being. Don't metaphorically slap God in the face by placing yourself at risk. Really if one more person says, "But I'm not responsible because I was drunk" I think I'll scream. Don't get drunk! Don't keep dating crazy people. Don't keep spending more than you have on things that you don't need and that actually cause you pain. Don't dwell on everyone who who ever "done you wrong." None of that is moving you in the way you want to go if you want a better life. None of that is moving you to love God more deeply or serve God more passionately.
Stop. Pray, Think. Pray. Reconsider. Pray. Act only IF IT IS IN YOUR OWN LONG-TERM BEST INTEREST. Please.
* 1 Thessalonians 5:22