Discerning The Fences of Friendship
(On behalf of Renewal Prayer Network Executive Director Jay Richmond)
Natural, artificial or spiritual barriers shouldn’t necessarily preclude the befriending tendencies or the deliberate development of friendship among believers.
As this applies to the Body of Christ, we can “round up the usual suspects” of theology, denominations (or non-denominations as it were), geography such as urban or suburban, ethnicity, race and the very general serious category of “silliness.”
It’s very appealing to our flesh to wear like a badge our intellect, education, background and the like to govern our disobedience to Christ in this realm of friendship. It’s easy to disregard the greater for the lesser: “I can’t, won’t, shouldn’t associate with so-and-so because he teaches this or that or has a bent toward a weaker faith or…”
While cults that elevate man over Jesus and heresies that verifiably lead sheep away from The Shepherd should be taken seriously, the chances of finding some common ground with sincere believers whom we could grow closer to is more likely than bumping into an up-and-coming David Koresh.
A good “flesh-test” is to examine our hearts before God as to why we are not looking for a friend in a church that is different from ours when we run into them at a function or in an unexpected line at Walmart.
If we are sincerely concerned about others being in error, has it occurred to us that God has assigned us to be St. Paul-like and bring a clearer picture of the gospel to these “weaker” ones? Oh, and them to us? Ouch!
God made natural barriers for reasons. Satan strategically preys on our flesh to make artificial ones.
Might we all be more careful about not creating a border between The High Priestly Prayer and ourselves versus being concerned about impure vessels rubbing off on us.
PORTAL TO HEAVEN: It often follows that when we come across those with different strokes we add to the array of colors and touches on the canvas of The Master Artist and that becomes a portal to all who walk through the gallery of believers.
‘My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.’
John 17:20-25 NIV