A Christian’s friends

A lot of Christians do, in my limited experience, tend to find that their closest friends are other Christians. This is only natural, as they are connected by the close bond of unity and fellowship which comes from being in the body of Christ, the global church. It is also actively encouraged much of the time, as it is rightly pointed out that the negative influence non-Christians tend to have on a Christian is greater than the positive influence of the Christian. In the words of JC Ryle,

The good go down to the bad, and the bad do not come up to the good.

Is this why so many Christians struggle to be living out the experience which the apostle Paul spoke of in 1 Thessalonians 2:8, sharing not only the gospel with the people around them, but also inviting them into their lives? I realise this is a broad brush stroke, but do Christians struggle to share the gospel in a personal and meaningful way because they are afraid of making close friendships with unbelievers? I would suggest some do.

I can testify that at university I have found it far easier to make Christian friends, even when I have naturally got on better with a non-Christian. It is a source of constant pain to me that I have so few close friendships outside of my various holy huddles. Having said this, God is gracious, and He is pleased to bless me with a number of friends who do not know the gospel, and He is strengthening my friendships with them. It is my prayer that I will grow in my love for God so that I may be able to love them more, sharing not only the gospel but my life.

G K Chesterton quotes

I’ve come across G K Chesterton as someone who made various pithy comments, but someone has been kind enough to compile a list of good ones. A few which made me think:

Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.

We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next door neighbour.

The only good argument against Christianity is Christians.

The Bible tells us to love our neighbours, and also to love our enemies; probably because generally they are the same people.

And one which made me laugh:

The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.

Further reading for the really dedicated:

Bourne to know

I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred and fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab of the grey truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?

Jason Bourne, The Bourne Identity (2002)

Earlier this evening I rewatched The Bourne Identity, with a view to rewatching its two sequels at some points over the coming week. I enjoyed the film again, but the above quote struck a chord with me. I’ve never a) been an assassin or b) forgotten about it. At least, not as far as I remember.

I have, however,grown up with the immense privilege of two Christian parents. They have brought me up to regularly attend church and read the Bible. I have believed in the God of the Bible for as long as I can remember, and I’ve never been under any false impressions about His character, thinking of Him as either a cute and cuddly Santa-like figure who gives presents to all the good little Christians, or as a malicious sadist who smites and smotes.

The reason The Bourne Identity made me think of this is that Jason Bourne, while suffering from amnesia, knows about himself, but does not know himself. In much the same way, I spent my entire childhood knowing about God without ever knowing God. I knew the Bible’s teaching, and I mentally assented to it, but it made no difference to me. Now, as a Christian, I know God personally and the difference is immense. We are born to know God, and the countless number of children (and adults) who know the gospel without ever seeking God are merely storing up judgement for themselves slightly more knowledgeably than some others.

At my home church, virtually all the church kids of my generation do, by God’s grace, seem to have a genuine faith in Him. At the church I’m part of at university, to the best of my knowledge, not one church kid is a Christian. They both preach the gospel and pray for their children, so I don’t mean this to reflect on one church as better than the other. Instead I mean you to see that this is something which is close to my heart as I see the huge contrast. A group of people who have already heard all your gospel explanations, all your intellectual arguments, all your pleading, and still reject Christ is difficult to reach. May God open their hearts, and use them to remind those of us who are saved that we do not win souls in our own strength.