My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.
There was a time in my early adulthood, I had to walk away from my friends. All of them. They were not good influences on me. When I had made some decisions in my life to change the path I was going down, they were not supportive. I knew at that time in my life, this was not working. I had to walk away. I had to surround myself with those who would lift me up, encourage me & help me stay on the straight and narrow.
In time, I would begin to surround myself with Christians who shared the same convictions. I would grow stronger in my faith. At first it was all very serious, bible studies, church fellowship. We were not having “fun” in the same sense as I did before. I can’t deny that I missed having fun with my friends. Eventually, I found myself within a group of Christian women who were having FUN. We were laughing until the tears started flowing, we were dancing the night away, celebrating holidays with each other. Creating memories & filling that void in the “FUN” department that I had been longing for.
As I was putting myself back out in the world, I started making non-Christian friends too. We would have a good time together as well. But, admittedly I kept them separate. Let’s face it, they didn’t always use the best language and would sometimes have pretty liberal views on politics, religion and life in general. After several years, I decided I was going to have a small gathering of my friends. I had invited one of my non-Christian friends to attend. Unfortunately at the last minute, she had to cancel. But she said something I will never forget… “Gena, I am so disappointed that I couldn’t come and meet the rest of your friends. I adore you, and you are such a great person…I am sure your other friends are too. I wish I could have met them. If they are anything like you, I bet they are lovely.” She was wanting to surround herself with more people like me. What made me different than any of her other friends or acquaintances? Christ.
She saw me as a Christian woman, who cared about people, was a dedicated wife and mother, but she also saw that I was fun to be around. She heard me, when I spoke about my failures and imperfections. She heard me, when I talked about striving to do and be better. Every conversation wasn’t a deep theological debate. I wasn’t trying to spend every waking moment of our friendship trying to convert her. I was simply being a good friend, who loved her, cared about her, and was there for her. As a natural part of our friendship… God entered the picture. If she was going to get to know me, it wasn’t something that could be avoided. The more she go to know me, the more she desired to know more people that were like me.
God doesn’t want us to surround ourselves with only other Christians. If we do that, we can’t reach those who do not know Him. We have no influence on the world. We are not light in the darkness. However, we don’t walk out into the world without His protection. We wear the Armor of God. We understand His love for us, and His desires for us to follow His word. We pray for His protection. We stand firm in our convictions. It is His spirit within us, that draws others to us. We are just the vessel.
A challenge my husband presented me with was to each day pray to God asking Him to make me a vessel in the course of my day. Asking Him to give me the right words, at the right moment. Sometimes we have a once in a life time opportunity to reach a person, other times it is slow through the course of building a relationship.