I have something to say about friendships.
I personally am not going to tell you who you should or should not be friends with. If you choose to be or not to be friends with someone, that’s your choice. If you’re a parent and you don’t want your kids hanging out with a certain crowd of kids, I’m not going to interject and tell you how to parent. That’s your decision. But when you start to drag Jesus into it, that’s when a red flag goes off in my mind.
Recently, I heard a friend of a friend mention that they would not become friends with anyone who was not Christian. I disagreed with his decision, but that’s his opinion and his life. But then he justified his reasoning and my jaw literally dropped. He said something along the lines of “I’m not friends with anyone who isn’t Christian because Jesus was only friends with people who followed him. The only times he encountered someone who wasn’t considered Christian, he told them to repent and change their ways.”
There are so many things I could say to refute his reasoning, but I’ll pose this one question to you; what kind of friends did Jesus have while He was on Earth?
We know of the twelve apostles, men who followed Jesus around and who helped spread His word around the world once Jesus was resurrected. I think most of us would consider those deeply devout followers “friends” of Jesus. But while Jesus was alive, we read that his “friends” were not exactly the cream of the crop.
Take for example, Peter. As Jesus is on trial, about to be put to death, his friend Peter denies knowing Jesus three times. In a critical moment in Jesus’ life, Peter wants nothing to do with this man and refuses to say anything to attempt to clear his innocent friend from such cruel convictions.
Or how about Judas? A friend of Jesus who betrayed him by taking a bribe and leading the group of soldiers to Jesus who would eventually arrest him.
On his way to the cross, only one apostle, John, followed Jesus the whole way.
Though each of his apostles, his “friends”, did some pretty admirable things throughout Jesus’ ministry, there were certainly some moments where they could be seen as less-than-admirable friends.
Who you do or do not want to hang out with is your choice. I’m not going to lecture you to do something against your will. But if you’re going to use Jesus-out-of-context as an excuse, you’re making the rest of the Christians of the world look bad.
I’ve heard countless stories about Person A not letting their child, Person B, become friends with Person C because Person C’s parents are divorced. Now maybe there’s more going on with Person C and his family than we see on the surface. We can’t automatically jump to conclusions. But more often than not, certain Christians will not allow themselves (or their kids) to have anything to do with people (or families) who are seemingly less-than-perfect. (As though they themselves are)
It’s easier for me to meet and connect with fellow Christians, but they are by no means my only friends. I personally am friends with people who consider themselves Atheists. I’m friends with people whose parents are divorced. I’m friends with people who don’t consider themselves religious.
When I hang out with them, I don’t do so solely in hopes that they will repent in order to avoid eternal damnation. I do it because I enjoy their company and because I know they have a good heart. If they happen to catch a glimpse of Christ through me and decide to pursue a deeper relationship with Him because of something I say or do, cool. That’s a bonus.
If we refuse to become friends with people solely because they are flawed or because they are not deeply devoted to Christianity, we are not fulfilling our duties as true Christians. If we can bring others closer to Christ as a by-product of a healthy friendship, that’s awesome. But the meme below sums up the results of previously-discussed exclusive friendships: