Guilty by association


By Rev. Al Williams, II

Special to the Outlook

In 2014 a well-known NFL wide-receiver was linked to a person who was allegedly involved in questionable activity and consequently, he found himself suffering from what is known as guilt by association. This NFL star has tremendous athletic prowess and rare talent even on the professional level but his talent was suddenly dismissed and ignored in part because he was believed to be associated with a person whose character had been called into question.

This player had not been directly connected to anything but because of his association with someone with questionable character; he discovered that people had decided to question his also. His professional and financial stability was hanging in the balance and on top of this his social standing had fallen in the eyes of some. He unfortunately experienced what is termed guilt by association.

When a person is ascribed guilt by association it is simply a situation in which one person’s character, integrity and judgment are fairly or unfairly assumed to be another’s merely because of an association.

This is the very assumption that many people make about those who claim to be the children of God and believers in Jesus Christ. Those who are on the outside looking in often ascribe certain qualities to church goers and expect us to exemplify the Christ they claim to represent.

The challenge comes when our representation of Christ does not match our profession of faith in Christ. When the mindset of believers becomes a mere reflection of the mindset of those who promote the approaches and attitudes of the popular culture we run into a dilemma – the believer becomes guilty of the wrong association.

Our challenge is to understand that if we have to be guilty of anything we want to be guilty of our association with Jesus Christ! Why use language like this? It is because when we take an honest assessment of Jesus we have to admit that being associated with Jesus is not always something that is embraced but can often be something that is shunned, criticized, and rejected.

When a person decides to alter their approach to life in a way that challenges the status quo and decides to confront to ills that plague our families, our relationships and our potential to fulfill God’s intentions in our lives, that person will find out that people around them do not mind someone who professes their faith as long as they are not living out their faith. It is okay to profess Christ until you start exemplifying the mind and spirit of Christ in daily living because this kind of approach to life challenges peoples’ presumptions, exposes inconsistencies, and shines a light on contradictions that plague our neighborhoods, our communities and our society at large.

In a nutshell being associated with Christ is costly!

Foxes had holes and birds had nests but Jesus had nowhere to lay his head!

It will challenge us and those around us to be authentic rather than phony, compassionate rather than critical, merciful rather than quick to wrath!

It may cost us some relationships. It may cost us some career opportunities. It may cost us some access to certain social networks. But I can tell you that for every relationship you lose, and for every career promotion you miss, and for every social network that you are kept from enjoying God has a way of providing everything that we need when we are willing to live for Him! Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, His reign, His authority, His governing influence over your life and He will add all of the relationships, job opportunities and networks we need to make it in this life!