As surely as night follows day, the change comes in a believer’s life, sometimes slowly, sometimes pretty quickly. When a person first gets saved, especially out of a sinful lifestyle, he still has plenty of friends who are still lost. The mature Christians warn the newly-born child of God that he needs to be careful about his old friends, that they'll be a constant source of temptation for him to backslide into his old way of life. He’s encouraged to hang around other Christians, especially more mature ones, and to get involved in church activities. And of course he does this, and over time his lost friends drift away or are driven away. Part of it comes from his new lifestyle, because even the nicest Christian in the world is going to constantly dig into their conscience. Part of it also comes from the fact that the new Christian just can’t participate in all their activities any more. And the new believer might be--consciously or unconsciously--giving off “vibes” that he’s better than they are, which is not an attractive feature.
But whatever the reason, most believers over time develop more and more friendships with fellow believers and fewer relationships with lost people. If we want to change this, there has to be effort involved. Our society itself encourages people to hang around others of like minds, no matter what the interest: Republicans hang around other Republicans, football fans hang around other football fans (of the same team), etc. It’s entirely possible (and quite natural) for most folks to seal themselves off from people who disagree with them.
I’m not saying that this is a totally bad thing. It IS possible for a new believer to fall back into his old lifestyle with the help of his unsaved friends, and the church has to be his new support structure. Getting into the basic Christian disciplines, like Bible reading, praying, and fellowshipping with other Christians is going to take up a lot of his free time. We all must do this if we’re going to grow closer to Christ. But is it possible to go too far in this direction? I think so.
You might know that salt was used as more than a mere spice for food. It was a preservative agent. In the absence of refrigeration, salt was rubbed into meat to make it last longer. With this in mind, let me just ask a few questions to get you and me thinking about this.
Christians, especially as they mature, are complaining a lot about the state of this society. There are some fields of work that have especially bad reputations: attorneys, actors, musicians, politicians, and salespeople. If these fields have such low moral reputations, why do you think that is? Well, if you don’t preserve the meat, why should you be surprised if it spoils? If you turn off the light in a room, why are you surprised if it gets dark? Lots of Christians would shy away from these professions, because they have such bad reputations. But as we look at the people involved in the latest scandal and cluck our tongues, how do you think Jesus sees them?
How many believers fight over positions at the local Christian bookstore? They don’t want to have to be around people who curse or sleep around or disagree with their beliefs. And there are people called into “Christian” or “ministry” positions, but most aren’t. Most are called into a mission field called the work place.
Lord Jesus, it's so easy to be in my bubble. And I need my support system. But I want to share the Best News I’ve ever heard with the people you put in front of me. Help me to see those open doors, and to step through them.
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