Saturday, September 13, 2008

#43 Having Only Christian Friends

People in Christian culture surround themselves almost exclusively with other like-minded people. They do have some acquaintances who are non-Christians but these are not close friends. These acquaintances are most often neighbors, co-workers, and other people who aren't easily avoided.

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A person immersed in Christian culture feels some tension during every interaction with a non-Christian. This is because they feel they must represent Jesus and win that person for Christ. They feel they should overtly and literally present the gospel during almost every interaction and they feel a certain amount of personal responsibility for that person's salvation. It's an enormous amount of pressure.

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This is not to say that Christians will not seek out conversation with a non-Christian. They will. But it is usually for the ultimate purpose of "witnessing" and avid pursuit of presenting the gospel to them in no uncertain terms. They feel that merely being that person's friend isn't quite enough. As a result the Christian culture person feels much more comfortable with fellow Bible-believing Christians. (Catholics don't count. Are you kidding?)

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Christian culture in large part glosses over the fact that Jesus hung out with the grossest, most immoral people in his society and that the people considered to be the most holy people of his time, the Pharisees, looked down on this. Even still, Christian culture feels unsure about having friends who are agnostic, atheist, undecided, gay, strippers, drinkers, smokers, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Muslims, or maybe just kind of skanky. These people could also be saved for all we know but in the eyes of Christian culture their lifestyle trumps this possiblity. (Where is the fruit in their life? asks the Christian, unwitting to his own sin in judging that person.) Christian culture indeed knows that the Pharisees missed the point of the gospel of Christ, but Christian culture members generally are not able to entertain the possibility that they themselves could be modern-day Pharisees.*

*Disclaimer: anyone can have Phariseeical attitudes and thus be sinning, even/especially people with silly blogs.

21 comments:

Shari said...

This is so true.
It makes me sad to think of how many people I may have passed on being friends with simply because they didn't attend my church. I finally decided it was okay to hang out with non-Christians – which was late in high school when I found out that gays & lesbians are just like everyone else – shocking I know.
I do also wish I would have thought of using my church friends as a cover when hanging out with my non-church friends. Anytime I hung out with friends from church I could stroll in at any time – 2 am, 3 am. . .no problem! I was with church friends! We couldn’t possibly be doing anything immoral, could we?
However if I told the truth (which was encouraged) and hung out with non-church friends, I better be home by my curfew time (usually around 11:30 pm or so) otherwise the consequences would be dire and I might actually be "banned" from hanging out with these non-Christians. Or at least encouraged to bring these friends to church.

Amy said...

Stephanie,
I SOO enjoy reading these! There's so much truth in them. I love your witty sense of humor, too. Keep up the good blogging!

This particular post reminded me of two blogs I posted.

I hope you will "hop" over and check them out (please feel free to comment, too! I love that).

"How are we Really Treating Unbelievers?" (8/23/08)

"Evangelism: Is It Telling Or Showing" (8/28/08)

Blessings,
~Amy :)
http://amyiswalkinginthespirit.blogspot.com

Israel Luna said...

I love your blog. You are really insightful on this stuff...You know what? this is sounding like one of those spam comments...
anyway... good stuff.

rugger341 said...

I like you're blog, when I first discovered it I shaved my goatee, then rinsed the frosting out of my hair. So how do we change it?

Katie said...

This post is so true! I was talking to someone who I love dearly (a Jesus believing Christian) and a friend of mine who had made a few mistakes (haven't we all) came up. This person I was talking to said "I just don't understand how you can be friends with people that live their lives like that." *My jaw drops to floor* "what? you can't be serious right now???"..... But she was and that's the sad truth of your post. Christians seem to feel like they will be guilty by association or something and don't want people (Christian Culture) labeling them as sinners..... But aren't we all sinners?!?! ugh, it's so frustrating. If I weren't a Christian and had a friend who was, but dropped me like a bad habit if I had made some wrong choices... I'd bet that I may NOT be interested in what makes him/her so different and "special." Just a guess tho.

the nibbling marmot said...

I can remember hearing that Driscoll asshole say something like, "non-christians aren't meant to be our friends. They are meant to be witnessed to."
That isn't verbatim, of course, but it's stayed with me these years.
Barf.

angela aka mrs. maverick said...

hi stephy,
just wanna know how you see 2 corinthians 14-18. do you believe it is encouraging Christians to separate themselves from unbelievers? and what would that separation entail?

stephy said...

Hi Angela,
Do you mean 2 Corinthians 2:14-18? That passage talks about Christians being a sweet aroma (in the NIV translation) among those who aren't Christians and I think that means Christians should mingle with the non and there should be no division between us and them - Jesus hung out with and showed sincere interest and caring in the thieves and whores, and we should too.

angela aka mrs. maverick said...

no steph, actually i left out the 6th chapter of 2 Cor., so it should have read 2nd Cor. 6:14-18.

so how do you interpret these Scriptures?

when you say Jesus hung with thieves and whores, in what manner did He hang with them? i know He showed a sincere interest in people- He was compassionate, and healed those who came to Him in need. but do you think after meeting their immediate needs He hung around thieves and whores without affecting a change in their lives? do you think these folk remained thieves and whores and He condoned their lifestyles?

i'm really interested in what you have to say about this, and just my own feeling is that i wouldn't want to hang around a thief because s/he might steal from me, and i would hate that. i also don't share common interests with whores, so i can't see how our relationship could be mutually edifying. i would probably be a killjoy to them.

blessings & peace 2u.

Anonymous said...

Wo-I am a strong converted Mormon who has grown up in the South. I knew people thought we were different/weird or something. Oh yea- and not christian** (Totally false I might add.) But I never knew we were grouped with agnostic, gays, strippers, Muslims etc..interesting.
Christian--one who follows christ's teachings and believes that the Bible is holy scripture which we should follow. If that is the definition than Mormons (The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter Day Saints) than we are totally Christians.
I love reading your blog!

David Rudel said...

I appreciate this blog. Indeed, a book I have in the works is "Born Again Pharisees."

One thing that I think it is important is that the people Jesus hung out with, as a general rule, knew they were not the people they should be...and accepted a need for God's mercy. [Matthew 9:12, and repeated in Mark and Luke.]

So, one could make a point that there is some collection of people in the modern era that are analogous to those who do not recognize a need for God's mercy, people who are need of repentance but do not realize it. Hard to say if that means Christians should not waste their time "casting their pearls before swine" or whether they should try to show them their own need for repentance, mercy, and forgiveness.

Magnus said...

"Christian culture indeed knows that the Pharisees missed the point of the gospel of Christ, but Christian culture members generally are not able to entertain the possibility that they themselves could be modern-day Pharisees.*"

AMEN

Lisa from VA said...

I'm a "Women's Bible Study dropout." They meet during my daughter's preschool, so each time I have to see them gathering and know that no matter what I say or do, I will always be the dropout. After about a year of guilt, one of my friends finally yelled at me and said, "We don't talk badly about you. We don't talk about you at all! It's fine that Bible Study wasn't for you! Get over yourself!" So I'm paraphrasing, but that's basically what she said. I finally let go of the guilt, and I saw that those same women have treated me no differently. Before and after my dropout, they were friendly as ever and chatty, etc. It's so easy for me to stereotype the "bible study set," and it's most certainly not my thing. But given that this particular group of women in fact did not fit the stereotype, I thought I should mention it. ; )

M. said...

Well, as a queer agnostic, I'm not really inclined to be friends with people who think I should be saved (having to interact with my boyfriend's evangelical family is bad enough). I have Christian friends, but not ones who are part of Christian culture. I'm just not capable of being friends with people who believe that I am fundamentally immoral and shouldn't be myself. Or that I'm in the same category as criminals. You see, I don't believe that I am a filthy outcast. I'm happy with the way I am. And I choose friends who are also happy with the way I am.

So I don't think that's all on Christian culture. Most of us "sinners" aren't interested in "friends" who befriend us out of Christian duty and consider us to be in the same category as "thieves and whores."

stephy said...

M.,
I'm glad you're not interested in being 'befriended' by someone who's doing it out of duty. That means you have respect for yourself. I think that if someone 'befriends' someone out of a sense of duty it turns that person into a project and it's the opposite of caring for them. That's messed up and not what Jesus was talking about at ALL.
Plus, it gives the person doing the duty a sense of being better than the person they're trying to help, which isn't true, we're all equally messed up.

i am said...

this is the saddest. not that if we don;t have non-christian friends we can't 'impact' our world.
but simply because we are losing out on so much things.

Anonymous said...

It sort of goes both ways. Yes, most evangelicals avoid having non-evangelical friends. But as a non-Christian, I'd rather have root canal work than spend ten minutes talking to some self-satisfied evangelical jackass.

Dave Wahler said...

I second the most recent comment made by Anonymous, even as I wish Anonymous would cowboy/cowgirl up and supply some kind of name or handle to differentiate themselves from the 4chan hordes.

nadine.w said...

Been there, done that. But I'm changing that. And gladly so. But I know I'm getting a lot of "prayers" from the old Christian friends for being so close to the "world."

Please tell me how on earth we're supposed to show the world who Jesus is...if we never actually come in contact??

And when we only interact with them on "our conditions" (i.e. "only if you dont cuss around me." Or "only if we go to coffee shops, not bars." Or only if I get to preach a little every time you bring up something secular," etc), then how will we ever get to them on a real level to witness to them in a way that truly reaches them?!

This one really bothers me. Because it's not just Christians being qwirky...it's Christians being ineffective for Christ...or only using 10% of their witness potential.

nadine.w said...

Oh, and I just read some other comments. And I agree, we shouldn't just hang out to "try witness." We should just be real. By being ourselves and loving God, we'll automatically witness. I think if we're trying to do it, most of the time it's obvious and rejected. When we just live and love, God will do the work in His time (not ours).

And I agree, we miss out on so much if we only socialize with people who think and act exactly like us. There's so much more about God's world and God's human race to discover that we're missing out on when all we do is go to church and hang out with Christians. God is in the world too, not just in church gatherings! It's time we realize this!!

Anonymous said...

The idea of being friends with someone who considers me the same as a thief and murderer is rather odd. It's not friendship, certainly, I don't know what would be a better term for it.