You Can’t be Friends with Them. Not!

1 03 2020

All my life I’ve had good people around me who have mentored or given me soundRock Road advice mainly on how to conduct my life. And I’m highly appreciative of the ones who cared enough for me to invest sound knowledge and understanding in this man. But there have been a few occasions where I had to take the instruction given with a grain of salt; two such moments come to mind this evening.

There was a time when I was given a position as a floor supervisor. In industry this is an individual who oversees a crew of workers to troubleshoot, and make sure the assigned work gets completed. Several of the people I worked with came to congratulate me and wish me luck, one man who was already a supervisor took me off to the side for a private talk. “Okay John, understand your world here is changing, so you have to change with it. Everybody you see as a friend that you’ll now be boss over can no longer be your friend.” I must say his words took me back a bit so I asked him, “Why’s that?” “Because you have to keep respect for your position, and if they think you’re their friend they won’t respect you like they’re supposed to.  They’ll be times you’ll have to discipline a worker and you can’t do that the right way if you let friendship get in the way.” I politely shook his hand and walked off without saying a word. I mean, what do you say to something like that?!!

It was sometime after I gave my life to Christ that another well meaning person felt they had to take me under their wing so that I might straighten up and fly right. “John, I see you play on a softball team plus you bowl in a league. Correct?” “Yes, these are guys I’ve done these sports with for some time. After a busy week, its my outlet to unwind a bit. Why?” “You accepted Jesus as your personal savior, that means you’ve changed, these guys won’t understand or respect that. You have to separate yourself from these people and spend most of your time with other Christians, or risk falling back into your old ways. Understand?” I shook my head in agreement, but on the inside, I was thinking, “Yep, clear as mud!”

“We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.” Billy Graham.

I do understand what both men were trying to get across to me; my role had changed so with it I needed to change. But in the workplace if I suddenly treated people that I had worked shoulder to shoulder with now in a hard and negative ways, I knew all that would cause was animosity and respect would fly out the window. I had to adapt to the new role, but at the same time not make enemies of the ones I needed to do their best work for me.

As for the Brother who was concerned about me hanging out with so many unbelievers, he meant no harm and I think I knew what he was saying. Afterall, an alcoholic when he gives up drink doesn’t continue to go to the bars; he aligns himself with other nondrinkers and joins organizations like AA. You have to be careful because for any of us, it’s easy to fall back into bad habits. But these were my friends, ones I enjoyed spending time with laughing and enjoying a bit of relaxation of just being me. Sure, I got ribbed on more than one occasion of now being a “Bible thumper” as some called me, but for the most part I was accepted as one of the guys even though I had made some changes in my life. And the way I read the Bible isn’t that what we’re supposed to be doing anyway?

Matthew 5:16 reads, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

Often, I like to read a passage from the Message Bible which has a way of using more understandable words.  Matt. 5:14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.”

In Christ, I had found something special, something that gave me hope in life. And if I came across something that special, doesn’t it stand to reason that I would want to share it with people I care for. If I’ve learned anything Christianity, it is not an isolation religion, it’s there for all to receive. Many of us know John 3:16, but how many know what verse 17 says? (16) “For God so loved the world that he gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. (17) For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

I have many friends that don’t believe the way I do, but we still call each other friend. There are ones who have asked me to pray about a situation because they recognize something is special in what I believe. Not a religion, not a set of rules and regulations that makes me look down on them. But a faith. A faith I’m willing to share with them, because I care for them.

Josh McDowell, an Evangelical Protestant Christian apologist and evangelist tells the story of being raised by a father who he hated because of his cruelty to him and his mother. After he became a Believer in Christ his attitude changed toward his father. During a time in Josh’s life he became gravely ill and ended up in the hospital. His dad came to see him, and during that visit he shouted out, “After the way I treated you growing up, how could you love me now?” These aren’t his exact words, but this was his meaning to his father. ‘Jesus loves you with everything you’ve done. And if you’re good enough for Him, then you’re good for me.’

My two “Travelers of the Rock Road” weren’t bad guys, just a little confused on what’s important. And whether I agree with them or not really isn’t the issue. It’s the same one for each person in my life. I may not agree with you, but I’m going to do my best to love you the way Jesus does.

Hey, lets get together for some coffee and a few laughs sometime!

See ya next time.

 

 

 

 


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