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Do You Need Any More Friends?

posted Aug 16, 2010, 9:02 PM by Kelvin Leu   [ updated Aug 18, 2010, 9:33 PM by hbchurch org ]

Have you ever thought about what it must be like to be a person who visits one of our assemblies? Put yourself in the position of a first-time visitor:

You may have lived in the town for a while or possibly you are a newcomer to the area. Whatever your circumstance, something is missing in your life. The drudgery and monotony of the daily grind continually tells you that there must be more. One day as you are driving around town you see this church building.

"Maybe that is what I am missing," you think. So the following Sunday morning you awaken to your alarm instead of sleeping in as you would normally do. This morning you do not watch the ball game or work around the house, or enjoy something recreational.  Instead, you put on some of your nicer clothes and go to church.

As you pull into the parking lot your stomach begins to churn when you see all the strange faces. "Everyone is dressed so nice," you think. "I hope I will fit in." Getting out of the car, another stark reality hits you. Everyone seems to know everyone else. People are laughing and greeting one another like long lost friends. Your eyes race from one person to another desperately searching for just one friendly face. The first person that notices you seems to glance away quickly as if to pretend they had not seen you. You approach another group, but they are so busy talking to each other that they only glance over their shoulder as you walk by. More and more you are getting the message that you are an outsider. Thoughts are flooding your mind: "Do these people need me here?  Do they want me?  What will happen when I get into the building? Maybe I should just go home. What am I doing here?"

Have you ever wondered why this scene is so common in our churches? Even in churches where there is a friendly greeting offered, the friendliness usually starts and stops at the building. I do not believe this happens because we intend to be unloving or that we just have no interest in someone who is lost. I believe the answer is more subtle than that. I believe the answer is that we do not need any more friends.

Think about it. Most Christians, who are reasonably involved with the local church, do not feel they have either the time or the energy for any more friends. In fact, for most of us, we are frustrated that we do not have the time to spend with the Christian friends we already have. Therefore when we meet someone new we almost unconsciously keep our contact with that person on a superficial level. We know that we cannot squeeze them into any of our time-slots anyway.

A few years ago I had breakfast with a group of about 25 senior citizens from a local church. During the course of the meal I commented to them about the great opportunity they had to invite unbelieving friends to their weekly breakfast. The suggestion did not go over well. The local preacher later told me that these elderly couples liked their group just the way it was and to invite unbelievers in would foul it up. 

I thought about what he said and decided that most of us were just about the same. We are quite comfortable with the friends we have and we are not very interested in bringing a stranger into our inner circle. A new person changes the dynamics of our group and demands a personal sacrifice. An unbeliever isn't the kind of person we would ordinarily choose as a friend. At the very least they do not have the kind of spiritual-mindedness to which we are accustomed. But more than this, usually our personalities do not mesh very well. If we are going to make a new friend, we would prefer someone who had similar interests as us; a person who is "fun" to be with. Unbelievers do not think about fun the same way we do. It takes time and hard work to get that comfortable feeling with them.

Let's face it. We who have been Christians for some time are usually not doing a very good job of reaching out to a lost world because we do not need or have time for any more friends. But Jesus said, “Which of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them does not leave the ninety-nine and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? (Luke 15:4). We need to come to grips with the fact that when we do not take the time to befriend an unbeliever, we are violating Jesus’ admonition to “leave the ninety-nine.” We are simply too cozy in our nice church buildings. We are too happy with the way things are. “We have ninety-nine,” we think, “What need we of more?” That is a lost soul you are talking about, and you and I are the only ones in this world that can make them our friend and share the gospel with them. Think about it the next time you see a stranger.  "And if you greet your brethren only, what do you do more than others?  Do not even the tax collectors do so?" (Mat. 5:47).

by Brother Berry Kercheville

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