Tasting Poison

“I think, eventually, I’ll influence them.”
“They’ll come around, they just need time.”
“They’re really fun and so nice! And deep down, I know they want to be better.”
“Jesus hung out with tax collectors and other sinners.”

These are all good thoughts I’ve heard and have had myself about non-Christian friends.

I’m thankful, though, that God kept me from the dangers of this.

God calls us to go and make disciples, to be His light to the world. I urge you, be open and passionate about your faith. If you know people that are headed down the wrong road and are carelessly living in sin, become their trustworthy friend. Make sure they know you’re there for when they need answers. If you are strong in where you stand, if you are at a point where your faith cannot be shaken and you can stand against and turn away from temptations without thinking twice, if you know when to back away, then don’t be afraid of those who are deeper in sin – maybe even dangerous sin. God can change them through you because God has given you that strength.

“If you have a friend who doesn’t know Jesus and you haven’t said anything, you’re not a friend at all,” I’ve heard. Yes, this is true – to a point.

There are a few instances I have seen that break my heart. I see a Christian eager to help someone who is lost. They are enthusiastic, ready to change the world one person at a time. Nothing is going to stop them. They are certain they can break through any heart of stone. They dive into a friendship with the lost sinner with every intention of coming back up with a Christian where the sinner had been.

Then something begins to change in the Christian. Little signs show they’re losing strength, but don’t feel it. A curse word here, a sexual innuendo there. A lack of compassion with insensitivity. A joking attitude toward God. Before too long, this “Christian” is just another person carrying the label. Their original mission backfired, went in the opposite direction – instead of changing the lost one, they themselves were changed to the lost.

Once I talked to one of these people. They still believed they were on that mission and doing well. What they said could be summarized in the first three statements that began this post.

“I think, eventually, I’ll influence them.”
“They’ll come around, they just need time.”
“They’re really fun and so nice! And deep down, I know they want to be better.”

But they were obviously blind to their own downfall. Why? What happened that took away their vision?

Here’s the pattern I noticed. They put so much into that friendship – which isn’t bad at first. But they immersed themselves so much into that person’s life that they began making little compromises, perhaps with the excuse to “relate better” and “reach on a closer level.” They didn’t mark their boundaries before going in or watch their steps once inside. And they made that friendship their main and closest one.

“Jesus hung out with tax collectors and other sinners.” Yes, He did. And how beautiful and meaningful is that? Jesus, the image of perfection, the Son of the Living God, spent time with what society considered the dirtiest people – tax collectors, prostitutes, and the like. He spoke love to the thief on the cross. What a wonderful Savior.

Yet we have to be careful. Taking this as an excuse for the actions resulting from a particularly close friendship with someone who is lost throws out a few pieces of this puzzle. II Corinthians 6:14 is often used for marriage. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” [Read the rest! http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2%20Corinthians%206:14-18&version=NIV1984] Although “yoked” implies marriage, this passage must be used for any close relationship. A yoke is the tool used to hitch two animals together as they pulled a plow or cart. These animals walk side by side at the same pace. Having a very close relationship with anyone who is lost is extremely dangerous, even for a Christian who is spiritually mature. When the relationship is that close, you are walking side by side with them, at the same pace. It’s a downfall waiting to happen. It’s like tasting poison each time you’re with them, and slowly, without your knowledge, it accumulates to a deadly amount.

Another piece we have to consider is this. Jesus is the perfect example, right? Look at His social life, then. Yes, He spent time with the lowest of the low. Yes, He showed endless love without restrain to them. But were they His main friends? No, not at all! Jesus always went back to His disciples – firm believers in Him. He always went back to His Godly family and to God Himself. His best friends were Peter, James, John, and most of all, His Heavenly Father. Although Jesus never would have fallen into sin, He was setting the example of a healthy lifestyle for us. Time and attachment with the lost needs to be balanced and even outweighed by time spent with true, firm believers.

Don’t leave the lost behind, but don’t let them become your leader. Spend time on them by praying for them. Watch your steps whenever you are with them. Leave the changing to God and focus first on becoming His unshakable child. Then you will see the intended results.

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