Recently, I was privileged to have dinner with the president of the University of Indianapolis alongside other newly inducted Alumni board members. The president, Robert Manuel talked about the vision of the University, and how plans were currently being enacted to achieve that vision. As we talked, Rob (as he likes to be called) said: “You can’t have a good university in a bad neighborhood”. That statement got my head spinning, partly because I live in this neighborhood, but also because that relates to life as well. I can’t be good if I am constantly being surrounded by bad. Something has got to give. Either I improve those around me or those around me spoil my character. Either the University improves the neighborhood, or the neighborhood degrades the University – there are no two ways about it.

The Bible implores us to be the salt and light of the earth. To live in the world but not be of it. To be wise as a serpent yet harmless as a dove – while we traverse the intricacies of the world and negotiate our place in it. We are admonished to come out of the world and be separate. Then will God accept us. Not come out of the world in terms of banishing ourselves to lonely islands, but by not conforming. By taking pride in being different. By standing out. By answering to a different master, Jesus Christ, and dancing to a different tune.  By changing our world and not letting it change us.

Show me your friends, and I will tell you who you are. Birds of the same feather flock together. Since houses are priced based on location, one dilapidated house in the neighborhood has the potential of bringing down the collective prices of all the other houses. Strive then to consistently be in an atmosphere of faith. The friends you hang out with mostly should be people of faith. Your work environment should have emblems of faith that points your mind to the cross and  reminds you of your purpose on earth. Yes, you can’t choose your extended family members but you can choose who you marry and whom you choose to spend the best hours of your life with. You can choose to come out from among them and be ye separate.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?  And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said , I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate , saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. – 2 Corinthians 6:14-18