Why Avoiding “Bad” Friends is Silly…and Wrong

The other day I was taking a spiritual gifts test that my small group leader asked me to take.  There was nothing super revealing about it – my top 3 were giving, teaching, and faith (which is pretty much what they were last time I took one of those tests in college), and my lowest was administration (no surprise there), but my second lowest was evangelism.  Definitely not surprising, but certainly convicting.

While I was taking the test, I kept having to answer “not at all” for questions that I knew I should be answering at least “some of the time.”  One in particular that stuck out and gave me flashbacks to youth camp was a question about having non-Christian friends.  It reminded me of a skit of sorts that was pretty popular when I was in middle school and high school, and probably still is today.

Here’s how it went: the leader would ask for two volunteers and then have one stand on a chair or stool, and one stand next to it on the floor.  They would then tell the person on the chair to try and pull the other one up onto the chair with them.  Obviously, this was difficult and usually impossible.  Then they would tell the person on the floor to pull the other off the chair, which of course was much easier.

The whole point of this was that is much more difficult to influence someone positively than to be influenced negatively.  This is a good and, as far as I can tell, true point.  It was supposed to warn us about the dangers of surrounding ourselves with negative influences.

However, the message I (and I suspect many others) took away from it was “don’t have any friends who do bad things.”  This included both non-Christians and Christians who may be a little less than squeaky-clean.  Because I, of course, was a wonderful influence on those around me and did not have any sin issues in my life at all.  Nope, not a one.  And if I wanted to be a good Christian girl, I better make sure I was not contaminated by any of those icky sinners that were around me.*

*Sarcasm.  Lots and lots of sarcasm.  Also, this is my primarily MY error, not the error of whoever it was who put me up on that chair.

Because I had this twisted view, even if I wasn’t necessarily aware of it, I have never had many non-Christian friends.  Also, I was fairly socially awkward through most of high school and into college, and pretty much the only people who would put up with me were church people, bless their hearts (sincerely, not in the Southern-female-insult-wrapped-in-a-sugary-coating way).

Anyway, this is ridiculous.  How on earth can we as Christians further the kingdom if everyone we spend time with is already in the kingdom?  This doesn’t mean that we should be alright with our kids joining the Satanic club at school as a way of interacting with non-Christians or that missionary dating is an effective method of evangelism, but we can’t live in a bubble (or allow our kids to live in a bubble).  Because ultimately, what is more important – our own safety (or our kids’ safety), or the spreading of the gospel?  Is our God not capable of “deliver[ing] us from evil” if we are coming in contact with it because of an effort to glorify His name?

If we are truly seeking and trusting in Him, not only will we not be pulled off our chair by bad influences, but we will be giving the Spirit room to lift others up onto the chair with us.  We can’t do it, but He certainly can.

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  • A collection of ramblings and musings on Jesus, life, education, family, and anything else that pops into my head.

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