Faithlife Sermons

Friendship With Others

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What the Bible says about friendship with others

Have you ever wondered what the Bible says about who we should have as our friends? Many people claim that it is perfectly acceptable, even mandatory for Christians to be close personal friends with non believers. After studying what the Bible has to say about this subject, I no longer think that is true. Before we start though, I think it would be wise to first determine what we mean when we use the word "friend".

This is the dictionary definition that applies to what we're discussing here:


Quote:
Friend: a person whom one knows well and is fond of; intimate associate;


So when we talk about if you could be a friend with someone that is of a different religion, we're asking if you could be really close to someone, know them really well, and they know you really well, enjoy the same things and doing them together, spend a lot of time together, either physically, and/or over the phone or internet or through the mail. In other words, be a close personal friend with them. Conversely we are NOT talking about "being friendly" toward someone. Of course you can and should be friendly toward everyone, as the Lord says we are to be that way even to our enemies!

The kind of friendship we are talking about here is a close personal friend that you see and talk to all the time, that knows you well and you know them well. That of course means that if they know you well, they must also know Jesus quite well, because you as a believer couldn't spend time with someone without mentioning and discussing Jesus.

Jesus defines and is part of everything I think, everything I do, and everything I say. I could no more separate Jesus away from something I'm doing/saying/thinking, then I could remove my right leg. It's totally impossible for me. "I" no longer have a life, because I've been bought with a price and it no longer belongs to me. It is now His life and He makes all the calls.

Therefore I could not be a real friend with someone that chose to continue in a false religion, because the other person wouldn’t allow it. Jesus would insist that every time I saw that person, I would have to talk about Jesus and that person wouldn't want to hear it. Non Christens can't stand hearing about Jesus for very long. There is real power in His Name and in His Word and they can't handle it. They either convert of they get angry and run away.

Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

John 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease.

Phil 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

2 Corinthians 5:15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

Ok, so what does God say about this kind of friendship? Does He want us to be that kind of friend with someone of another religion/faith? (I am not talking about different denominations here, I'm talking about being friends with someone that is not saved, an unbeliever) Does He care, or does He just leave it up to us, or what? Let's see what the Bible says.

2 Corinthians 6:14-17 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.”


James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

Ephesians 5:3-7 But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for Gods holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person- such a man is an idolater- has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things Gods wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.

Ephesians 5:11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

Psalms 1: 1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.

2 John 1:10-11 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him; for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds.

Revelation 18:4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.

Prov  8:13 To fear the Lord is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.

Romans 12:9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

If we are living according to God's Will, which is revealed in His Word, then we cannot be friends with people who are of a different faith. We can witness to them, we can be "acquaintances" with them, as in co-workers etc. but we cannot be friends with them. If we are around someone that is of a different faith, then we are called by God to tell them about Jesus. When we do that, one of two things will happen, they will either let us know that they want nothing more to do with hearing about Him, or they will express and interest and be open to Him. If they express an interest, then yes, we can continue with them and tell them the Good News, but if at any point they let us know they aren't taking us seriously, then it is time to move on. Let me repeat what I said earlier: Therefore I could not be a real friend with someone that chose to continue in a false religion, because the other person wouldn’t allow it. Jesus would insist that every time I saw that person, I would have to talk about Jesus and that person wouldn't want to hear it. Non Christians can't stand hearing about Jesus for very long. There is real power in His Name and in His Word and they can't handle it. They either convert or they get angry and run away.

Those who we speak to who reject us and our Jesus, will not want to be our friend, they won't want to be considered a "holy roller" like us, or a "fanatic" like us. No, they will run as fast as they can in the other direction and they will ridicule us and persecute us just as Jesus said they would.

Luke 6:22 Blessed are you when men hate you, when they exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man.

Matthew 10:22 "And you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved.

John 15:18-21 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: No servant is greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.


How can you have a "friend" who rejects your very best friend, your Lord and Savior, Jesus? You are one with Jesus and Jesus is one with you. How then can you join with someone that rejects the most important part of you? When someone realizes just how serious you are about Jesus, they will usually either join you, or come against you, making fun of you or persecuting you in some way.

God even told the Jew's to separate themselves from the people of the other countries because if they didn't do so, those people would corrupt them. The Jew's ignored God's Word, and wound up having to endure a great deal of discipline from the Lord because of their choice. This is shown all through the Old Testament. He also forbade them to marry someone from another country, just as we are told not to marry an unbeliever. God doesn't change, so we can expect that His rules are not going to change either.

Leviticus 20:26 `And you shall be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy, and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be Mine.

Psalm 4:3 Know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord will hear when I call to him.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

1 Peter 3:15-16 But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

John 15:19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.

1 Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.

I hope I've been able to show the reasons we as believers, cannot be good friends with someone of another faith. It would just be impossible, like mixing oil and water, it simply wouldn't work.

We can however, be friendly toward non believers, treat them with love, witness to them, show them by our own lives what it looks like to be set apart by God and be a good co worker, or employer or employee to them. Our actions speak louder then words. If our actions, our lives, do not set us apart, then why in the world should they even consider becoming a Christian? If we act just like they do, there would be no difference except the label, and we know there is much more to being saved then simply having a get out of jail free card.

Now before we get off track here, let me answer a question that I'm sure will come up in this discussion. What about if we are married to an unbeliever? If we married an unbeliever after we were saved, then yes, we committed a sin. But, Jesus is faithful to forgive our sins, so we do not need to be condemned for that, for there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ, Jesus. Paul addressed this very question in the Bible, telling those who were married to unbelievers that if their unbelieving spouse chose to leave the marriage, then let them and it would not be counted as sin, but if they chose to stay in the marriage, then again, let them, because you may very well convert them, just by being yourself.

 

Our tendency as human beings with a sin nature is to make excuses for ourselves, so that we can continue to do what we want to do rather then what the Lord says. As humans we also often try to shift the blame off of ourselves and on to someone else. This has been going on ever since the very first sin in the garden.

Being a Christian is an all or nothing experience. Rather, it's supposed to be an all or nothing experience. God doesn't give us the option of choosing which verses in His Word to believe and which to discard, nor does He give us the option of choosing which we want to obey and which ones we don't. Yet this is exactly what most of us do to one extent or another, even though we often don't mean to.

God isn't interested in lukewarm Christians. He wants ALL of us, heart, mind, body, spirit and soul. Most of us still want to hang on to our little pieces of sin, such as hanging out with non-Christians and being close friends with them.

When the Church (body of Christ) first began after Jesus ascended, Christians were on fire for Him. They had to be. It was a life or death issue to be a Christian, both for the adults and for the children. People back then understood exactly what Jesus meant when He told them to "count the price". The price very well could be their physical death. So converting to Christianity wasn't done lightly, as it often is now.

In Luke 14:25-35 (I'll put it at the end of this post so you can read it) Jesus explains to us that there is a cost to becoming His disciple and that we must be sure that we are willing to pay that price before we jump into this. He must be the most important thing in the world to us--more important then our families, friends, neighbors, enemies, country, and even more important then ourselves. This is where so many of us fall down today. We make Him number one in some things but not all things, and often don't even realize it.

Yes, we are told to love our neighbors and our enemies, and to be like the good Samaritan. We are not told however to hang out with our neighbors, enemies or even the person the good Samaritan rescued. Love them, yes. Help them, yes. Witness to them, yes. Be close personal friends with them? Not unless they too are believers.

How then can you have a close relationship with a Buddhist or a Muslim or a Hindu, if you are following the Lord's Word? Do you preach salvation and witness to them every time you see them? If not, why not??? Is that not the most important thing in the entire world??? If your "friend" had cancer and you knew of a pill that would cure it, would you not be on their backs day and night until they tried that pill??? Or would you mention it once or maybe even occasionally and watch them die? (Figuring that they could see by the fact that you didn't have cancer that the pill works of course)

According to what the Lord says, the world will hate us if we are being true to Him. "The world" means everyone who is not a believer. Therefore, our "friend" should hate us, and if they do not, then we are doing something wrong!

John 15:18-19 "If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

John 17:14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world.

James 4:4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."

So you see, our true close friends cannot be of the world, the must be fellow believers. Again, just as God's Word says:

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
 

So once again we are back to square one. God has called us out to be separate from the world, not part of it. Take a look at yet another verse:

1 Peter 2:9-12 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.


Please note that in this passage we are once again reminded that we are strangers in this world, this world is not our home. Note also that we are told to live good lives AMONG the pagans NOT WITH them. And again Paul tells us:

2 Corinthians 6:17 “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord.


I don't recall anywhere in the Bible where Jesus, Paul or any of the disciples befriended someone that was unsaved and hung out with them as their "close personal friend" for years, so that maybe sooner or later the person would get saved because they would observe the gospel in their personal lives. If they didn't do that, then how can we? If they knew that they couldn't win people over to Christ that way, what makes us think we can?


God had and has a reason to want us separate from non believers. Just as He had a reason for wanting the Jew's to separate themselves from the pagans around them. Here's the reason in a nutshell:


1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”


Psalms 106:35 But they mingled with the Gentiles And learned their works;


Proverbs 22:25 lest you learn his ways and set a snare for your soul.


Galatians 5:9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump.


You see, the Jews thought the same thing many Christians now do, so they also disobeyed the Lord. He punished them for that and ultimately it led to much heartache and sin for them. Just as it will for us.

If you'd like to read a little bit about this, I will post some verses about it at the end of this. However, you really need to read the whole books to get the full understanding of what happened. I don't want anyone to think that these are the only verses that speak of this in the Old Testament, because there are many more. I just grabbed these as representative of them.

As a final offering, I hope you'll prayerfully consider what the Bible says about this and ask the Lord to show you His desire for you. I really do understand about wanting to be friends with non believers; I understand about wanting to be loyal to a person you simply happen to really like, even though they're not a believer. I feel the same way. The only difference is that I have come to understand that it is God that is the most important person in my life and it is to Him that I must be loyal.

Matthew 10:37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me;

Here are the other verses I told you I would post:

 

Here is Luke 14:25-35 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple. And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’ “Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. “Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”"



Ezra 9:1-2 After these things had been done, the leaders came to me and said, “The people of Israel, including the priests and the Levites, have not kept themselves separate from the neighboring peoples with their detestable practices, like those of the Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Jebusites, Ammonites, Moabites, Egyptians and Amorites. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them. And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness.”


Ezra 10:11-14 Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.” The whole assembly responded with a loud voice: “You are right! We must do as you say. But there are many people here and it is the rainy season; so we cannot stand outside. Besides, this matter cannot be taken care of in a day or two, because we have sinned greatly in this thing. Let our officials act for the whole assembly. Then let everyone in our towns who has married a foreign woman come at a set time, along with the elders and judges of each town, until the fierce anger of our God in this matter is turned away from us.”


Nehemiah 9:1-3 On the twenty-fourth day of the same month, the Israelites gathered together, fasting and wearing sackcloth and having dust on their heads. Those of Israelite descent had separated themselves from all foreigners. They stood in their places and confessed their sins and the wickedness of their fathers. They stood where they were and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for a quarter of the day, and spent another quarter in confession and in worshiping the Lord their God.



Nehemiah 10:28-31 “The rest of the people—priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants and all who separated themselves from the neighboring peoples for the sake of the Law of God, together with their wives and all their sons and daughters who are able to understand— all these now join their brothers the nobles, and bind themselves with a curse and an oath to follow the Law of God given through Moses the servant of God and to obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our Lord. “We promise not to give our daughters in marriage to the peoples around us or take their daughters for our sons. “When the neighboring peoples bring merchandise or grain to sell on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath or on any holy day. Every seventh year we will forgo working the land and will cancel all debts.

May God bless you as you prayerfully consider this.

Cynthia LaFreniere

Fresh-Hope.com

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