Posted by: thebylog | June 27, 2005

If you want to evangelize, one thing you need to do is develop friendships with people that aren’t Christians.

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Responses

  1. Uh-huh. You’d think that fact should be fairly obvious to us Christians, but we often don’t seem to get it.:(

    –Delia

  2. Why must you become friends? Billy Graham certainly was not a friend to the world and yet he was responsible for thousands of lives being saved.

    I dont think being friends with the world is even Scriptural. It’s a known fact that the bad apple rots the good ones. Good apples do not “unrot” the bad ones.

    I am an Independant Baptist. We do door to door soul winning several times a week. We’ve seen hundreds of souls saved. In ten years our church has gone from a membership of 200 to over a thousand because of our soul winning efforts.

    We run buses into the inner cities and bring over 300 children to Sunday School every Sunday. On Saturdays we run our buses down to skid row and pick up the homeless and bring them back for a meal and a change of clothes or a blanket. Many hae been saved because of this ministry. Every week we go into the jails and preach the gospel. We also go to the Boys School for juvenile delinguents once a week.

    Not once have we felt the need to become friends with the world. The Bible says to have no fellowship with the works of darkness.

    I’m not sure how you think you can become friends first?

    Nor am I sure how you fit this into your daily life.

    I dont mean to be playing devils advocate here but I just don’t see where the Bible teaches us that we need to be friends with the world in order to save the world.

    I am open to enlightenment,however. 🙂

  3. Interesting twist. Hmm. I’ve been in Poland working as an English teacher and missionary for the past two years. Leaving next week. I’m leaving behind a lot of friends! It’s been one of the special privileges for me, not only to meet but actually to become friends with these people. Would’ve been a much more difficult two years away from home if I’d have made no friends! I don’t know what to think exactly, and kind of see your point, Mrs. Darling….but I absolutely do not regret the fact that the people I’m leaving behind consider me their friend, and I consider them mine.

    Crystal

  4. The Bible states that “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” However, it also commands us to “love not the world” while at the same time “[abounding] in love… toward all men.” It may be fair to interpret “the world” in these instances as the sin in people, not the people themselves.

    This has been a topic of interest to me lately, here at college where there are people I really want to reach for Christ. It seems like the intellectual types may not be won as easily through roadside signs, prison ministries, and mass evangelization – it seems that personal relationships are the way to go to reach professors and fellow classmates. They aren’t friendships of the same caliber as those with fellow Christians – I don’t think it would be right to be “bosom friends” with a non-Christian – but they are relationships of loving concern for the other.

    At the same time, I mirror to some extent your concern, Mrs. Darling – Proverbs does state that “evil communication corrupts good manners”… However, Jesus did interact with evil people. Maybe I integrate the Proverbs verse by not going salsa dancing or bar-hopping with my classmates – by not being partisan to their carnal activities or being around them when I really wouldn’t benefit them by my presence.
    It will be good to read the thoughts of others on this topic…

  5. While Jesus interacted with sinners I cant think of one case where he made them His friends. His friends were people like Peter James and John; all followers of His.

    I too would be interested in reading others thoughts on this.

  6. Just what were Peter, James, and John BEFORE Jesus met them?

    Sinners, weren’t they? What about Matthew, the publican?

    What about the friends I have made at my former place of employment? A number of them do things I think are wrong; I don’t do those things with them, I disagree with them, I have told them what they are doing is wrong, but we’re still friends. Does that make it wrong?

    James 4:1-5 says:
    4:1 From whence [come] wars and fightings among you? [come they] not hence, [even] of your lusts that war in your members? 2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume [it] upon your lusts. 4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. 5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

    If these are the verses being referred to, these are speaking about lusting for the THINGS of this world, that which the world values. Not about PEOPLE.

  7. Yes the disciples were all sinners before Jeus called them but he didnt befriend them and cozy up to them first. He found some of them fishing. He didnt ask to join the fish fry. He said Follow me. The smae thing with the tax collector. He said follow me!

    Interacting with people doesn’t mean the same as befriending a person. I can interact with my banker but that does not mean he’s my friend.

    And no those were not the verses we were referring to. The verse I mentioned specifically states not to fellowship with the sinner. How do you become friends without fellowshipping?

    The distinction needs to be made between sinner and friend. Yes we rub shoulders with sinners and yes, we were all sinners and yes, the disciples were sinners before Jesus called them.

    Byron said that before we can save them we must first become friends. This has no scriptural basis. However, theres lots of scripture stating that we are not to befriend the world.

    Being friendly to coworkers is not the same as being friends to the sinner with intent to see them get saved. Of course, we must be nice to those we meet. But to be friends where we pal around with them is not being seperate from the world.

    Strangequark mentions that Jesus interacted with evil people. Of course, we must interact with the sinner. Thats what we do at work – we interact. But again I state that interacting is not “being friends with.”

  8. But… okay, Mrs. Darling. Take a look at this verse: “The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a FRIEND (caps mine) of publicans and sinners!” Luke 7:34. Wasn’t Jesus our perfect example? I know we aren’t Him but…

    –Delia

  9. Delia, thank you. I have many “friends” among the unsaved that I visit with from time to time in a neutral public place. This informal group has some Christians from other denominations from mine and the discussions that occur on spiritual themes may be the only preaching these lost ones hear.

    Yes, we must guard ourselves from entering into the sinful aspects of their lives, but they must feel the love and concern that comes from Christ through us in a real relationship. I have my Christian fellowship to recharge me and challenge me to stay the course in living for Christ and that governs my overall involvement with my non-Christian friends as we discuss these “friendships” so that I may be accountable before the church.

    The “worldly” activities of these people I avoid, but I would be there for them if they need my help in any other way, for I consider them friends.

    We have to get over the idea that we can only be close to the sinners after they have been saved, after all, that is what church is, a fellowship of sinners saved by grace by faith in Jesus Christ. As another commenter said, we shun the “things” of the world, not the people.

    Mrs. Darling, I ask this in Christian charity. If one cannot fall from salvation, why do you fear friendship with sinners? I recall a former discussion with you on this issue and your position was that a Christian can never loose their salvation, therefore, by your interpretation, you should not fear association with sinners and their influence on your life as something that can ever affect your salvation, so why not be friends with sinners, since their sin will not be a danger to your salvation?

  10. yeh the heathen thought that since He at with them He was their friend. Not so. I sit down to eat with people in restaurants all the time. They are not my friends. I sit down to eat at school socials. Those people are not my friends.

    I dont mean for this to turn into a debate. A discussion is nice but I want to end this and still be a friend to you all. LOl.

    I’m not saying that there is never a reason to befriend someone of the world. I am just saying that I dont believe it is necessary for their salvation which was the original point.

  11. Truth seeker it looks like we posted about the same time.

    I am not afraid of losing my salvation while making friends of the world. But regardless of my stand on salvation we still feel that the Bible principles must be maintained and that the Bible commands certain things in a Christians life.

    We do not continue in sin just so grace may abound. If one is truly saved the Holy Spirit fills that person and convicts of sin. This you believe too. The differece in our beliefs is only that if i sin I do not believe I lose my salvation. I do however lose that close communion I once shared with my Heavenly Father and since I am saved I value that above all else.

    For me to fellowship and befriend the people of the world is to grieve my Heavenly father.

    I have to wonder if its not a thing of semantics here. I dont mean a person should ignore or be mean to the people who are unsaved. Not at all. God is love.

    Friend to me means someone I share my heart with; someone who has the same things in common with me; someone that I can bounce ideas off of and someone that holds me when I cry and laughs with me when I laugh.

    This friendship is not possible with the world.

    It’s very easy to save the world without being it’s friend. Thats all I’m trying to say.

  12. Here is something else to end to the mix.
    James 4:4 You adulterous and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
    So what do you think that verse means?

  13. “I have to wonder if its not a thing of semantics here. I dont mean a person should ignore or be mean to the people who are unsaved. Not at all. God is love.”

    I do not think that this is just a matter of semantics. Reaching out to a lost person is the highest order of “friend” a Christian can be, how else will they know God’s love if it is not offered to them by someone that they can relate to in order to come to know God?

    “Friend to me means someone I share my heart with; someone who has the same things in common with me; someone that I can bounce ideas off of and someone that holds me when I cry and laughs with me when I laugh.”

    I have done all of these things with many “friends” that are sinners! Since they are friends they understand my commitment to Christ and that it underlies the very reason that I care for them. That they have not responded to the Gospel is not a reason for me to abandon them. I do this with many of my unsaved family members also, are you saying that because they are not saved that I may not associate with them?

    Staying free from the world is in the context of not entering into the worldly excesses of life. Going to amusement parks, beaches, and other forms of worldly entertainment, that are there to amuse people into complacency towards spiritual issues. Not being friends with the world is not participating in the ideologies and beliefs of the worldly system. Friendship with people is not being friends with the “world”.

    Anonymous said…
    Here is something else to end to the mix.
    James 4:4 You adulterous (adulterers) and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
    So what do you think that verse means?

    1:01 AM

    Anon,
    This verse is to the addressed persons, adulterers and adulteresses; men and women who are sinners that have made themselves one with the world. Christians are not adulterers and adulteresses any longer. Check out the full context of the passage in James 4. It is to carnal men and women, some that, unfortunately, are found in the church. As I pointed out above, the world and its things, as a system, is anathema to the Christian, and we may have to avoid certain persons in it, but there will be those that God will bring to us that we can befriend without entering into or condoning their lives of sin, and share the love of Christ and His Gospel in our definitely somewhat “restrained” friendship with one another. Sharing in friendship with the lost should not be impossible for a Christian, for we have felt that saving love of God that His Son made possible for us to be His friends.

  14. Truthseeker, since when is going to the beaches wrong? Isn’t that Gods beautiful creation?

  15. This is such an interesting topic, and although I have only skimmed everyone else’s comments perhaps I can venture out my opinion. One thing I’ve noticed is, perhaps it’s that people have different definitions of “friends”.

    “Byron said that before we can save them we must first become friends.” I don’t see Bryon saying that…..his words are “evangelize” and “develop friendships”…and I see nothing about doing that before evangilizing. I agree that we should not become close and intimate friends with nonbelievers.
    The thing that came to mind for me is, I befriended a non-christian girl several years ago. By “friend”, she came to our youth meetings, sometimes I had her over to my house, and we got together occasionally. In the middle of that kind of friendly interaction, and by gaining her trust and getting to know her, it made it easier for me and for others in my circle to share with her our beliefs. As she got to know us, she also got involved in more of our activities that taught her about Christ and introduced her to Him in a personal way. Today she is a very committed Christian, and since she was “converted”, our friendship has developed and blossomed into a very close and best-friend kind of friendship that we can now have since we are sisters in Christ.
    I don’t think she would have come to our meetings, church groups and such, if we would not have first extended the hand of friendship.
    In this “discussion” it seems that there is one more important thing to remember: “we” can’t save anyone. We are only tools that God uses in different ways in different circumstances to reach others for Christ. It is HE that does the saving.
    Am I making sense, here? Forgive my rambling……
    ~Laura J.

  16. truthseeker you & I will just have to disagree on this one. I cannot even imagine having that close of a bond with anyone who is not born again. Notice I didn’t say “who is not of my church.” I have a lot of friends who do not go to my church but they are saved. These are my friends. The rest are acquaintances or strangers that I care about deeply because their souls are lost. Thats why my church goes out twice a week knocking on doors and thats why we have inner city ministries. We are to save the lost not to walk arm in arm with them.

    When Jesus needed to confide in people we never see him with the world. He pulls away; to a garden, to a mountaintop, out on a boat, etc. And with Him he takes His disciples NOT the pharisees and saducees.

    I cannot even imagine what the unsaved person would have to offer me by way of comfort or advice when their basis for comfort and their basis for advice is not founded on the Word of God.

    I would advise you to reassess (hmmm spelling?) these frendships especially if you have children of your own. That arm in arm walking with the world is not being a called out people.

    I’m going to agree to disagree here becasue neither of us will convince the other.

  17. oops I was thinking you, truthseeker, was a younger man such as Byron. I went to your weblog and discovered you were a father of grown children.

    Hmmm, that may put a little different perspective on this.

  18. Excuse me… Ahem… If you don’t mind too very much… His name is Byran…! With an “A”! Just thought I’d throw that in! 🙂

    –Delia

  19. Ahem!! Delia, do you have any idea who mrs. Darling is? Its byrons relative. So maybe you should let byran fight his own battles with his own relations over how to spell his name. A-hem!!

  20. Good grief people, don’t let this get personal. People should know how to converse on such a level with out getting so picky.

  21. Anonymous said…
    Truthseeker, since when is going to the beaches wrong? Isn’t that Gods beautiful creation?

    11:15 AM
    I did not mean going in the sense of enjoying the beauty of nature. I meant in the context of beaches that cater to the “skin” market that is so prevalent along our coasts. The rampant semi-nudity to outright nudity is a part of the “world” that Christians are not to be “friends” with. I also meant the amusement provided at most beaches that have the vanity fair flavor of materialism and the broad way rather than the straight gate that we are to enter per the commandments of our Lord. It is not the location, it is the intended reason for going, whether beach, lake, mountains, or desert.

    Anonymous said…
    Truthseeker, I have a question for you. we do not believe in divorce and remarriage, and I take it you would feel the same way?! So what would you do if some of your family that aren’t christians would get married the 2nd time(remarried). As their friend would you attend the wedding or how would you handle a situation like this? Just curious, as some of us were in that situation.

    11:19 AM

    I have had to deal with this issue within my family. I have not attended the weddings of several of my relatives and I have had to communicate to them explaining the reason why I could not attend, and I consider this important to a proper witness for Christ and not to hide behind silence. These have included my only brother and sister. I believe that to go to these ceremonies is wrong and gives a false hope to the participants.

    As far as friends that I have among the lost, I would counsel them in the same manner against the practice and not attend if they do have the wedding. I try to keep my Christian standards inline with the Word of God. It has not been easy or without pain in both family and friendship relations, but a clear position is necessary to prevent any hypocritical actions on my part.

    In these situations, I do try to continue the friendship or family relationships, but with the issue clear before us and in a loving attitude that seeks for their repentance and conversion just as before this unfortunate choice. As long as there is life there is hope. Unfortunately some of these situations brings a parting of the ways, but it is their choice not mine. BTW, dealing with family is a little different than dealing with friends. Family is family, blood is thicker than water, but sin is sin and we must be clear on this yet loving in our judgment.

  22. Delia was not being picky when she pointed out the spelling of Byrans name. I took it as a funny little thing she was pointing out to me that she even foudnd a bit humorous. Notice that she had a smiley face after it.

    Indeed I was wrong on the spelling.And inspite of tha fact that Bonnies and I were expecting our babies at the same time and the fact that we were together often during the last 23 years I really hadn’t noticed that she had named her baby Byran instead of Byron. I am not aupset at Delia pointing that out.

  23. Mrs. Darling, I realize that we will not change each others minds on this issue. That you and I are settled and convinced of our positions should not prevent a discussion of our differences in this public forum to help others to find the truth. The readers here must find the path to walk in life from God’s Word, and hopefully with its light illuminating our discussion here. The main thing to avoid is any “extreme” position based on either of our positions, and all is to be done with oversight by Christian brethren and in Christian maturity.

    I do want to say that your position is the safest way to live if a believer tends to drift towards the influence of the friends they choose. And, yes, I am an older husband/father that has seen all of his children begin their own lives. All are married to spouses that are professing Christians and are unfettered with any prior relationships. My relationships with those that are unsaved were done with the children being told the truth at all times if they were old enough to understand, and protected from any wrongful influences if too young to understand. We cannot be too careful when our families are young, but we must pass on the concept of witnessing and loving the lost in service to Christ, being wise as serpents and harmless as doves. The young adults here are in the fray now, and they are the hope of the church. Discussions such as this can be a tool for them to weigh the issues before us all in faithfully obeying our Lord in our witness of His wonderful Gospel.

    I thank you for your concerns for these readers; I do not want to minimize your Christian love for them and their direction in life. I only think that building careful relationships with those that are lost and need the gospel is part of the duty of a mature and stable Christian in service to their Lord.

  24. This discussion has raised a question in my mind. Is it possible that I don’t have friends in the ‘world’ because I’m afraid? Either I’m afraid that I will succumb to that which I secretly wish for, or I’m afraid that God will place me in a situation where I will be forced to make a stand for a moral issue, and so jeopardize the relationship.

  25. Maybe I can word the question in the form of a statement. I think Christians sometimes hide behind the “I’m not a friend of the world” rule because of a fear of total commitment to the Great Commission. Whenever a person makes a total commitment, they become vulnerable to emotional harm. Of course, not everyone that is unwilling to cultivate friendships with the world fits this scenario. But I think it describes ME more often than it should.

  26. Truthseeker, I appreciate where you are coming from. I think there is much wisdom in your words. I still feel that it ‘s wrong to walk arm in arm with the world however, I do see a need to discuss these sorts of things in these forums so we all can learn together.

    I think Pauk is right in that one needs to know why they take the stand they take. I have been in the world and it’s no fun out there. I chose to drop all those friends and begin a new life filled with God fearing people.

    That said I still know that the big reason I dont make friends with the world is simply because I feel that it is not right to do so.

    Now I do wonder where Byran is in all of this! 🙂

  27. He’s most likely hiding in fear and trembling. Who’d have guessed a short post like that would generate such a flurry of comments?

    Mrs. Darling – don’t you need to at least build relationships with people, regardless of whether you refer to them as friendships?

  28. Mrs. Darling, Thank you for your kind words, I think that all Christians that want to reach souls with the Gospel of Jesus Christ will open themselves up to the Holy Spirit’s control and allow Him to lead in whatever relationship is needed or should be avoided.

    You are right, that we do not go “arm in arm” with anyone outside of Christ, this is unequal yoke. While my friendships are not truly “arm in arm” they do exist on a level of crying and laughing together in the issues of life that can be shared and used in witness of God’s Word of Christ. Wisdom is very important here, for defenses can fail due to the flesh and its weak human emotion and reasoning.

    Our young people need those that have lived longer to discuss our experiences in the battle for souls and the living of life, and we must listen to their ideas and concerns. This format of public discussion is quite good at bringing together a rather far flung group of our younger and older folks for these discussions, and though it is not perfect, it is very handy.

    Paul brought up a rather interesting thought, that we avoid friendship in the world because of fear of a total commitment to the great commission due to the emotional cost attached. I’ll have to think on that one.

    His first comment of a fear of succumbing to the lifestyles of the lost is probably the greatest fear of the two and a more probable one, and the danger that you, Mrs. Darling, see in such involvement. I will not minimize that danger, for it is real. Christian maturity and accountability to other Christians is manditory in this area of witnessing. As has been pointed out, evil manners corrupt the good in most instances and we Christians had better never forget the flesh that we are encased in.

    I do not think that you need worry about Byran, just pray for him and all young Christians that they may keep the fire of witnessing strong in our churches. May God bless them all with His wisdom.

  29. Lol! Thanks for standing up for me, mrs. darling. I consider you a “kindred spirit”.:) I just… well, it’s one of my idiosyncrasies, I suppose, but I have a “thing” about names (and words too, for that matter). With “Byran”, it’s sort of the same thing as in Anne of Green Gables and her spelling her name with an “e”. She thought Anne with an “e” looked much more distinguished, and with Byran… well, he’s much more a Byran with an “a” than a Byron with an “o”. Byron with an “o” looks so smug and self-righteous to me. It definitely doesn’t suit him. You are privileged to be related to him. Thanks for not taking my comment as an insult. 🙂 Talk to you again soon. 🙂

    –Delia

  30. Wow.. something looks a little fishy here Byran..Ahem!!LOL!!

  31. Interesting, very interesting! Do you two know each other? Hummmm…

  32. Yes and no,Mark Y.:) I know Mrs. Darling through her blog, but we have never met one another. She writes well though, and so I feel like I know her. Some of her interests are the same as mine, and well, I kinda connect with her through that. (I know that probably sounds weird, but so be it– it won’t be the first time I’ve said something strange.:)

  33. I think we need to see the differance between converting people and discipling people. You can lead someone to salvation without being their friend, but you will never be able to walk with them as Jesus walked with His disciples without being their friend. That is the hardest part. Being willing to help them thru the struggles of the new birth and the changes that need to be made. Billy Graham has led thousands to the Lord, but the amount of people that he has discipled if much, much smaller.

    Secondly, we can lead people to Christ en mass, yet how many of them will stick to it unless they have someone to walk with them. Better yet, how many of us would be where we are if we had no had someone to instruct us and lead us. I fear that we have “inoculated” many Christians by helping them to salvation and then not taking the time or eeffort to lead them on in christian life. We know that just going to church is not enough, it take daily involvment to produce the lasting change that’s needed. These are teh people that have “tried Christianity” and it “hasn’t worked for them.” How sad. They needed a friend!

    In Closing, Jesus called us to make disciples of all people, not just converts.

  34. Japheth says it best: “I think we need to see the differance between converting people and discipling people.”

    This is the idea that I have not really addressed and that I am trying to get across with the idea of having limited friendships with lost people. As Japheth says later, we are not just trying to convert lost souls, we are also commissioned to disciple them into the “all things” that Jesus taught to us through each succeeding generation of disciples. You cannot disciple without some intimate relationship taking place between you and the lost one. It may be limited in the worldly sense, but the relationship is there.

    I hate to toot my own horn, but I posted an article that I submitted to “Life Lines” on my blog relating to this issue. Check it out and enlighten me if you disagree or if you agree or if you think it needs something added.

    I have been challenged by this discussion, we need more of these younger and older views to be brought forth so that we all may be encouraged in our service to Christ.


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