Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Your Friendship and my Wife

This is where I stand on my friendships and my wife.

1. I can be your friend if you don’t know my wife.
I can be your friend if you have never met my wife. Indeed when I am friends with people who don’t know her, I hope I can introduce them to her because when they meet her I think they will like her and become her friend too. But even if they never meet her, I can still be their friend, though our friendship goes only part way. I am always hoping they will meet and like my wife too because she’s that important to me.

2. I can be your friend if you know my wife and accept her.
I can be even better friends with people who know my wife and like her. In fact, my very best friends are people who know both of us and accept and like us both.

3. But I cannot be your friend if you have known my wife and now reject her.
But if you are a friend who knew my wife and were her friend once but then later rejected her, I cannot be your friend. We can be acquaintances and have an occasional contact, but we cannot be friends if you reject my wife. If you reject her you de facto rejecting me. If you say, “Well, can we still be friends, can’t we even though I reject your wife” I will say that I cannot. My relationship with my wife is not that casual. If you reject her, you reject me.

But, of course I am not talking here about my wife. I am speaking about my God.


JohnLDrury said...

Thanks for this. It serves to illuminate the apparent contradiction in the New Testament between how Christians ought to treat those who do not yet know Christ and how Christians ought to treat former Christians (aka apostates): Love, hospitality and witness for the former vs. "dusting the sand off your feet" and "give him over to satan" for the latter. In the light of your illustration, that doesn't seem to be a contradiction at all, but the only fitting response to each case. Thanks for this!

kerry said...

Very neat and logical. So, how about the father in the parable of the prodigal son? The son had rejected the father, everything and everyone he loved, and everything he stood for.

Time for a little Nouwen reading, maybe.

Keith Drury said...

Not speaking here of fathers and sons... but friendships so the parable may not relate.

However if it does, I am not speaking of God the Father --which is the point of the parable... God may be friends with all--even those who reject him (though if we take this parable as a serious description of God the father we'd say he did not follow the lost one into the far country but stayed home with waiting welcoming.

Christy said...

As a pastor, it's a similar thing for me w/ the church. Once you reject this Body of believers, we can't be "friends" anymore.

This has been a messy area for me. When people reject my GOD, I know where things stand. But when people reject a specific church body, it's harder to know where exactly the relationship stands. Obviously, they're no longer accepting me as their spiritual leader in their life, so there's a personal aspect to it. But they're also rejecting a whole Body of people who they once (seemed to have?) had meaningful relationships.

"Breaking up" with church members who leave is hard and so, so painful. Recently I was reading about Samuel after the Lord had rejected Saul as King. The Lord said to Samuel, "Why do you go on mourning for Saul when I have rejected him?....Go, take your anointing oil and go anoint...." Sometimes pastors need to move on from grieving lost relationships, pick up their anointing oil, & move on out to seek the next one that God has chosen to join the church Body.


Christy Lipscomb

Rick said...

Just happened upon this site. I guess I may be the odd man out here, but I really don't understand the stance you all seem to be taking here. How do you intend to win others for Christ if you isolate yourself from them? There are many people that I can think of that have left churches due to misunderstandings, back slidden conditions, etc. Are you really saying that just because one has previously had a relationship with Christ, and rejects him, which I interpret to mean backslide, that we should shun that individual? How do you ever expect to restore such a one to the fold? Please explain...

Keith Drury said...

Rick--thanks for stopping by... no, I'm not speaking above of any of these:
1) A person who is an unbeliever--someone who does not know the Lord—the lost.
2) Or someone who has known the Lord and "backslidden" –by willfully rebelling against the Lord and sinning blatantly—in a curious way this person may still believe the core claims of the gospel are true—they just “can’t live it”—these I will seek forever.

I am speaking above of a person who one knew Christ but has rejected the core claims of the Creeds—they now consider the blood of Christ “simply crap” and the resurrection a made up lie—I’m speaking of an apostate who once knew Christ but now disbelieves. This kind of person I would happily befriend for several years hoping they would make a comeback—but eventually I cannot be their “friend.”

Rick said...

I appreciate your clarification. I was simply operating on the original quote. The first example is one who has never known. The second is one who has accepted. The third is - "But if you are a friend who knew my wife and were her friend once but then later rejected her, I cannot be your friend." How it states here is quite different from your clarification, so I accept the clarification. I honestly don't know of too many people who are seriosly apostate as you define. I believe that there may be some who appear to be this way, but whether they actually truly believe that in their heart is another story. Look at someone who claims to be an atheist. How many really, really are? Is it a waste of our time to befriend them? Can we show a Christ-like example to this sort and perhaps win them, not by words, but by example? Look at all of the comments that were posted. Do you think that they understand the quote as you do? I mean no disrespect here, but we need honesty in thinking and honesty in ourselves today, as well as open discussion.

kerry said...

I think the other commentors (me being one) understand what Keith is saying, because we didn't just happen across the site. This is part of a larger conversation. Your query and his clarification will certainly help other casual drop-ins.

Rick said...

Let me share with you my thinking in regards to Christian witness. As Christians, we are commissioned to win souls for Christ. I don't think anyone who truly professes would disagree with that. But how do the vast majority try to implement this? They invite sinners to church. They do not attempt true friendship. They merely invite them to church. Oh, they shake hands with them, smile, pat them on the back - but where are they the rest of the time? Where are they when that individual needs a true friend - when he's down, when he's drinking his pain away, when he longs for someone to talk to about his problems - where are they then? And sadly, when he attempts to make contact with them - what do they do? They invite him to church. Here's a challenge for you. What would happen if 10 people from your church would find someone who is a sinner and "adopt" them - be a true friend - have him over for meal, genuinely and consistently, bake him a cake by surprise and take it to him, listen to his problems and attempt to give good advice. Offer to mow his grass when he is so depressed he can't keep things up, help him locate work when he is unemployed by using your contacts -do all of this, and never discuss him going to your church. How many of these adoptees might gain an interest in spiritual things by your example? I think that is what God would love to work with through the Holy Spirit. It's His Spirit within us that moves souls, and I sincerely hope that we all feel His power within our hearts, for if we don't, we need to do a serious checkup as to why. I appreciate your forum.

Keith Drury said...

Sure Rick that's exactly how I feel about friendship with unbelievers... (which is not what the article is about). You are right on regarding unbelievers.