1 Corinthians 12:27 | Romans 15:7 | Proverbs 27:6 | Matthew 5:44-45
This is dedicated to those members of the football team AND marching band.
We are all different–sometimes very different. But for those of us who follow Jesus, we are all part of the same Body.
All of you together are Christ’s body, and each of you is a part of it.(1 Corinthians 12:27)
As Paul explains, God gives each of us our own unique set of gifts to complete the body. You can’t have a body made of just feet, can you? And how well would your chess game go with just pawns?
God’s Kingdom is made of individuals, whose strengths and weaknesses can be combined to show his extraordinary love and amazing workmanship, and to remind the world how great he is.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.(Romans 15:7 NLT)
Why should we accept other followers of Jesus? Because it makes us like Jesus (who also accepts them) and it brings praise to God.
Even outside of Christian circles, people do not have to be alike to be friends. Friendship is based mostly on mutual trust and respect, and is cultivated through spending time together. So if you are the president of the chess club, you can still be friends with members of the weightlifting team.
But what about people who have hurt you? Should you still be friends with them? The answer is yes. Because, if you think about it, everyone has hurt you at one time or another. In fact…
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.(Proverbs 27:6 NLT)
Note that we are talking about a “sincere friend” and not someone who habitually abuses you with hurtful words or actions. Those people are better as entries in the ‘enemies’ column.
Here is the crazy part. Jesus tells us:
But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.(Matthew 5:44-45 NLT)
Does this mean we should be friends with people who hate us and/or treat us badly? No, it does not.
It means we should love them (even if from a safe distance!) as people created by God and reflecting him in their humanity. And we should pray for them. Mostly, pray for God to change them and us to no longer be enemies.
It is harder to hate someone who loves you than someone who hates you back. And it is better to gain a friend than keep an enemy.
So remember: God’s Kingdom is made up of many different kinds of people. And different doesn’t mean at odds.
Questions for Group Discussion
- Should we make an effort to be friends with people who are different than us in their morals and beliefs? Should Christians be friends with people of other beliefs? How do people who are negative influences figure into this conversation?
- Are there times when different does mean at odds? How generally can we apply this concept to our relationships?
- What is the difference between loving your enemy (as in Matthew 5:44) and being friends with your enemy? Why is this an important distinction?
- Should you spend much time with people who habitually hurt you? What if they don’t do it deliberately? Is it healthy to spend time with people who continually hurt you?
FRIEND ME: Challenge
It is easy to be friends with people who are like you. And hey–what’s wrong with easy? Nothing, but this is a challenge:
Make a friend outside your normal social group(s).
Sound scary? It does not have to be. And it comes with a list of Dos and Don’ts.
- Pray and ask God to help you make this new friend
- Meet this new friend through someone you already know
- Use wisdom in deciding who to spend time with and how
- Ask your parents’ for guidance and help, if possible
- Do not put yourself in a dangerous situation by spending time alone with a person you have just met.
- Do not hurt someone’s feelings by treating them as ‘a friend you are making because of a challenge’; you will need to develop an interest in them as a person.
- Do not think you need to do this in secret. It would not be cheating to mention the challenge and receive help from trusted friends, parents, teachers… even the new friend him- or herself.