Christian Community Is A Christian Thing

Years ago, at a time when I still had many acquaintances but few real friends, I had one very, very dear friend. She did her best to comfort me when I discovered my parents were, in fact, dead. She helped me understand the responsibility my therapist had towards me and I towards him. And, to celebrate my birthday, she even made frozen dinner (it was better she not attempt real cookery) and gave me the kind of toy I was never allowed to play with when I was a child. Once, she even saved my life.

But she wasn’t a friend I could keep and I knew it. Whenever I was discouraged about finding my family, worried about work, or indecisive about whether I should go to an audition, she’d offer to “do a reading” for me. I understood that she was offering me the best she had. And perhaps God had given her gifts of prophesy. But she saw the gifts she might have as hers to control. She believed she should peer into the future so that she and others might have an easier time traversing life.

Whenever she offered to “do a reading” for me, I’d demur. I didn’t want to hurt my friend but I knew divination to be, at the very least, an attempt to circumnavigate the limitations God has placed on us. He has given us this moment and asks us to trust Him. He has not given us permission to map the suffering and good things in the future and then plot an optimal course through. As time passed, I became more and more uncomfortable with my friend’s activities. Though she was wonderful, our ability to be in community was hindered because we walked very different paths. We couldn’t accompany one another because we didn’t share a common goal. Ultimately, I ended our friendship.

Christian community is a Christian thing because of the common goal we share: Christians are striving to follow and become like Christ and to get to heaven. We regularly fall and are oft times reduced to crawling yet as we travel together, one of the most important things we do is encourage one another. Just as CPT Sarah Cudd’s received support to cross the finish line and earn her EFMB in the video below, Christians support each other as we follow Christ. In fact, no matter how much we disagree, we can’t be Christians without each other. We are indispensable to one another.

Years ago, when my life felt like one overwhelming disappointment, I needed people who would remind me that God loved me and that I could trust Him even if my dreams of finding my family never came true. Invitations to peer into the future were a temptation that made living in the moment more excruciating. When all I longed to do was read the last page of the book and make sure it held the happy ending I envisioned, I needed to be reminded that God was calling me to crawl and trust. No matter how wonderful my friend was she couldn’t help me do that because paging ahead in the midst of suspense is the exact opposite of trust.

As long as non-Christians aren’t hindering our faith, they certainly ought to be our friends. We ought to invite non-Christians to participate in most community activities. And we must do so without an agenda. We must not invite people because we plan to convert them. Through loving friendship, we show Christ to those who don’t know Him. When friends ask questions, we must be honest and trust God will use us as He sees fit in their conversions.

Still, there will be times when following Christ will require relinquishing friendships with some non-Christians, often because of our own weakness. We are not to be unequally yoked and that can include friendships too. When following Christ takes us away from some relationships, we need to remember that He will bring us together in Christian community, in His Church. He will prepare us to present His Gospel to a world that is not starving for knowledge of what tomorrow may bring but for His love today.

Comments

  1. She sounds like she was a good friend. It’s a shame when people allow religious dogma to trump human kindness. Better in the long run for her that you cut her loose. Losing a friend hurts, but being rid of people who judge you as unworthy is a blessing.

    1. Neither of us judged the other as unworthy. It had absolutely nothing to do with dogma. I couldn’t follow her on the path of spiritualism and she couldn’t follow me on the path of Christianity.

      Think of it this way: You and I are leaving from NYC together. Your destination is Taos, NM. Mine is Denver, CO. Depending on the mode of transportation, we can travel together part of the way but eventually, we must part company. Our paths may cross at some future time but I will not get to Denver if I stay with you and you won’t get to Taos if you stay with me. Some roads part and we can only pray for the wisdom to accept the partings and pray that we will meet again someday. She may well get to heaven before I do.

  2. That friendship thing with someone who believes differently is tough. I’ve had to walk away from friendships before as well.

    I remember a time about 14/15 years ago when a relative was dating a non-believer. I thought I could convert her so I bugged her nearly half to death. I liked how you said we can invite them to things without the agenda. The couple did not make it but I also later learned my lesson in how I should approach people. Great points that you made today!

  3. I’ve always avoided psychic readings, as well, but fortunately never had it come between me and those who were interested. Honestly, I wasn’t that close to those folks to begin with. I feel for you over that loss. Your analogy of a trip is well stated, by the way. Best wishes!

Tell me what you think. Thanks.

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