The Myth of Unreachable Friends
Have you ever had a friend hurt you? Have you had a friend spill information to you that caused you to view them in a different light? Have you had a friend follow the path of sin, and abandon you because you are a believer in Jesus Christ?
If you’re like me, sometimes it can feel deeply personal when a friend walks away from the Lord. Upon walking away, I had a friend tell me, “It’s not that I don’t want to talk to you, it’s just that I know you’re not going to encourage me how I now want to be encouraged.” It is okay to be hurt in these situations, but it is not okay when your gaze stays on your hurt.
Remember what Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.” In gazing at your hurt, you can let it prohibit you from seeing clearly, and may end up labeling your friend as “unreachable” in regards to evangelism.
However, the Bible shows us time and time again that nobody is unreachable in the eyes of the Lord. This means we have to walk humbly and carefully, and be slow to abandon friends who stray from the Lord. Here are some thoughts to consider.
How do I Avoid Treating a Friend as Unreachable?
First, instead of a solid answer dictating what exactly you should do, I think you should ponder who you are — who you are in general, and who you are being to your friends. There is grace! The Lord’s kindness leads us to repentance, so you don’t have to fear conviction, but pondering who you are is important to seek change and reconciliation.
Don’t Make Assumptions.
You cannot combat assumptions with assumptions — seek clarity. Your friend may be labeling you as something because they have not been shown otherwise. There is always a deeper, darker undertone to why we do what we do when we follow a path that is not good. In many of these cases, our friends have already given up on themselves.
Respect Boundaries, but don’t Stop Praying.
This raises my next question: why are we so quick to give up on our friends? Yes, maybe the way you love them will be different, but we need to remember that love can take different forms. You may not agree with them or be encouraged by them the same way you used to, but they are the same image-bearer they have always been, and they need Jesus just as much as you do.
Don’t Put Unrealistic Standards on People.
Your fellow humans are not God, therefore, they will never be able to meet the perfection of God. This is okay! It shows us our desperate need for the gospel every day. One thing we have to remember is that it is unfair to put standards on people that they will never meet– believer and unbeliever alike. We often speak instead of listen, we jump to conclusions instead of seeking to understand, and we take things personal instead of realizing what is really at play in situations of agony. Your friend needs you to be a friend and not someone who expects perfection.
Don’t be Quick to Quit.
Never give up. Think of where you would be if that pastor or friend or family member had given up on you.
Be Vulnerable and Be Humble.
Share your story. I think you’ll be surprised at what happens when you’re honest. Time and time again, I’m so surprised at the number of times I work up the courage to be honest and vulnerable, and I hear my friend say “me too.” “Me too” signifying: “Hey, I’ve struggled with that too” and “You’re not alone.”
Remember your Loyalty to the Lord
What I want to make clear is this: being friends with someone does not mean you sacrifice your walk with the Lord in efforts to “be there for them” or “make them happy.” Proverbs 22:24-25 says, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.” In 1 Corinthians 15:33, Paul says, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’” Your relationship with anyone should not be a hindrance on your relationship with the truest friend, Christ. I desire for this to be clear so that you can accurately understand what I am writing about.
Think of how God can use you and your story to your friends who have walked away from the Lord. If you walk away from those friends just because you don’t agree with them, you may never get to experience what God has for you in that friendship. 2 Timothy 24-26 says, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.” As believers, verse 26 reminds us not to see our friends as enemies, even though they may be victims of our enemy. By staying present, the Lord may grant them repentance and release them from the snare of the Devil.
You will never find a truer friend than Christ. God cares for your friends far more than you can fathom, and you can rest in this, and be encouraged by this!
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