Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Decades ago, before Jesus upended my life with his love and called me to follow him, I lived pretty much like all our Christian friends. We all went to church, believed the same doctrines, sent our kids to Christian schools – we were Christians – cultural Christians.
But, when I pledged my highest allegiance to Jesus, the blinders came off. I immediately saw that my language, the jokes I told, how I talked about women, the gossip that I passed on so effortless – all that was sin and needed to stop. Here’s the verse that change my life.
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17
If I was in fact a new creation then the “old” had to die and the “new” had to come. The actual “dying” and “coming” does come automatically. But the desire – wanting to die to sin did! The Holy Spirit created that desire in me for a new personal holiness.
As I began living that out, some of my Christian friends didn’t know what to do with me. I’d pray in my car before a golf game, “Holy Spirit, help me to get through this game without a single vulgar word, comment or joke.” And, to my shock, he did!
Some friends slowly drifted away. I don’t know if I was just obnoxious to them, or I thought I was better than them and they felt that. But one incident changed how I think about spiritual friendship. A friend and our children were driving to some event, the guys in the front and 9-10 year old kids in the back. My friend started to pass on some gossip about somebody, and I didn’t say much. But neither did I try to stop it. But all of a sudden I noticed that the car was silent and the kids were listening quietly to what was being said in the front seat. And immediately I came under conviction that as a father, I needed to be far more serious about my choices of friends. So, I quickly tried to change the subject and later talked to my friend about what had happened, but a year later a similar thing happened with the same man, so that relationship, at least around my children, had to end. Why?
Because I had an obligation to my children to put in front of them, men and women who loved God who would inspire them to love God. Whether we fully realize it or not, by our choice of friends, we as parents are teaching our own children how to choose their friends.
“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,” Hebrews 10:24
Good friends can either cheer us (and our children) on to be more like Jesus, or hold us back. So when choosing friends, ask yourself this question. “Do I want my children to be as spiritual as my friends?” If not, don’t expose your children to them.”
This I know to be true. Christianity is more caught than taught.
I’ve also heard it said that, “we are the average of our three closest friends.” For the sake of your children, please choose your friends wisely. Then when they become teenagers, tell them how and why you chose your friends. Pass on to them how followers of Jesus, stay followers of Jesus.
My one disclaimer to this idea is if you’re trying to build a relationship with non-Christians, you may have to do two things – bite your tongue and talk to your children why you are befriending another family. I wouldn’t expect non-Christians to act like Christians, and neither should your children. Teach your children well.
So, is there a close “Christian” friend who may be a stumbling block to your kids?
How following Jesus works in real life.
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