The circles we live in say a lot about us as a leader, and who we are as a Christ-follower. It probably goes without saying for most of who are leaders in the Church that our friends who aren’t Christians are likely now far and few between.
If you’re unsure, start counting off the number of people in your life whom you KNOW you cannot speak Christianese around because they simply won’t get it. Or those whom you KNOW you can’t make Biblical references around because it will fall on deaf ears.
I will state a caveat before going any further: we obviously need to be involved in Christian community for our own growth, encouragement, prayer and accountability. We clearly see this in Jesus’ life (though He was doing more evangelizing and converting with the disciples than anything than being edified Himself…). And we need to continue to pursue our own growth as leaders in the Church as well, which means learning from Christian mentors. That said, when we look at Jesus’ life, it was spent with God, the disciples, the religious rulers (whom He was trying to make real believers out of) AND those whom He spoke to in parable after parable after parable. It was filled with people to whom He was the only light in their darkness.
There are two major reasons we need to have friends who are not Christians in our lives: 1) we too may be the only light in their darkness; 2) they keep us from getting weird and in touch with the real world in which we live.
This past February, I got an early morning text from one of my best friends asking me to call her. It was very unlike her, so I got on the phone immediately. She told me how her daughter had ended up in the ICU over night and asked me if I would pray for her. In the 9 years that we have been friends, she has NEVER asked me to pray for anything. If anything, I am mocked for my faith and values in our circle of friends. I love her as a friend and a person, and nothing could change that. But the fact that she wanted me to call her so that she could ask me to pray for her daughter told me that I was the only person in her life that she was close enough to to share what was really going on and who she knew would pray. In the pitch blackness of her life, I was the person God was using as light to shine in her darkness.
We were made to shine in people’s darkness, even, and especially, if we are the only ones. In Matthew, Jesus says this, “Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house” (Matthew 5:15). Back then, Jesus was the only Light. Today, we’re called to be the light. Where are you we shining?
Simultaneously, these friends of ours keep us from getting weird. To be continued next week…