How many of us have friends who are not Christians? Or say they believe in Christ but continue to do things that are not scriptural? How many of us, when we “hang out” with our non-Christian friends do and say things we would never say when we are with our “Godly” friends? Do we listen to off-color jokes and laugh? Do we watch movies that we know are inappropriate? Do we listen to music that does not give glory to God? Do we try to “fit in” with the world?
1 John 3:7-15 (NIV)
7 Dear children, do not let anyone lead you astray. The one who does what is right is righteous, just as he is righteous. 8 The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not lovetheir brother and sister. 11 For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. 12 Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15 Anyone who hates a brother or sister is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life residing in him.
The Greek word for brothers and sisters (adelphoi) refers here to believers, both men and women. How simple it is to fall into the habit of being a different person around our non-church friends. How easy it is to fall into bad habits and bad relationships just so we fit in, or don’t offend. I hate to say this, but if you haven’t offended someone today or tomorrow or the next day….you are probably in danger of treason to the kingdom of God. I know that this is an offensive saying and sounds like a contradiction, so let’s examine what God says about the world and those who live in it.
Luke 6:20-26 (KJV)
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. 21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. 22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake. 23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets. 24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. 25 Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
2 verses stand out for today’s sermon: vs 22 and vs 26. Both speak about the people of the world and how they should (or will) feel about believers. Vs 22 reads: 22Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.
Not just hate you, but avoid you, cast you from their company, revile you because you love Christ. It is sometimes so difficult to be a Christian, we strive so diligently to “Love our neighbor as ourselves” and to “do unto others” and “turn the other cheek.” So many things that we are taught about relationships when we love Christ, so many things times we have to let an offense roll off our backs. What Christ never teaches however, is compromise. As Gene Lanier has said many times: “Compromise with the world is treason in the eyes of God” and this is a true statement. When we compromise, the world can accept us. When we compromise by listening to un-Godly music, or watching un-Godly movies, or laughing at un- Godly jokes, we are hypocrites and Christ is not in us. When we do the things the world wants us to, we become friends with the world. Vs 26 reads: 26Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. Let’s change the pronouns in that sentence. Woe unto me if all men speak well of me. Is that something we strive for? Is that something we want, for everyone to like us, for everyone to speak well of us? Are we friends with everyone?
James 4:4-8 (NLT) 4 You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God. 5 Do you think the Scriptures have no meaning? They say that God is passionate that the spirit he has placed within us should be faithful to him. 6 And he gives grace generously. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 7 So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.
Vs 4, so important that James writes it twice: friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God.
It has bothered me for a few years that I have very few friends, very few people who come over and visit, very few people whom I visit. Sadly, I am a social animal, I love hanging out with people, I love being in groups and talking to people. It has bothered me that in the past several years the number of people who are my friends has declined greatly. I truly realized this when my Super bowl party, which at one point had upwards of 40 people showing up, had 6 people there this year. Why has this happened? I offend a lot of people, or a more accurate statement: the Holy Spirit living in me offends a lot of people. I don’t listen to secular music, maybe a song or two, but not by choice. I choose not to watch inappropriate movies. I stand firm in my belief that downloading movies and music without paying for them is stealing. My belief in that is so strong that this past week someone I was working with argued with me every day trying to convince me that I was wrong and got VERY upset when I was unbending. Some of you know how difficult it is to argue me. I tend to be a bit hard-headed and have been known to frustrate donkeys with my stubbornness. The point is, if we are living for Christ, we are going to upset people, we are going to make people uncomfortable and we are going to lose friends. Now the friends that I used to have, they’re still my acquaintances, I still speak with them and occasionally hang out with them, they’re just not really interested in having a relationship with me simply because the Holy Spirit makes them uncomfortable.
See there’s a process I see happening to Christians, I’ve seen it with some of my friends who claim to be Godly, I’ve seen it happen in this church, it’s almost happened to me. First we giggle or laugh at an inappropriate joke when we should have stopped it or walked away or corrected the speaker. Then we repeat the joke, or something similar, so we can fit it, so people don’t think we’re weird. We listen to music that is inappropriate, we know the words, we know the song. We can justify this because it’s “not really that bad” or we “just like the beat.” It’s ok, it’s just a song. Compromise. Our friend has a copy of a movie, we watch it because everyone else is. Compromise. We allow people to use vulgarity around us, because we don’t want to offend them, we let them use God’s name in vain, because we don’t want to offend them. We don’t do what is right in the eyes of God because we don’t want to offend the world. We don’t want to lose our friends, we don’t want people to think we’re weird.
James 4:17 (NLT) 17 Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.
I know it’s hard, if it was easy everyone could do it. The problem is, we all want friends, we all want to fit in, we all want to be liked. Great if we want to be of the world.
Proverbs 18:24 (ESV) 24 A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
What does that mean? If we have a lot of friends we may come to ruin? God never says that we are to remove ourselves from the world, only that we have to choose our friends carefully.
Proverbs 22:24-25 (NLT) 24 Don’t befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, 25 or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul.
Remember that our real friends are not afraid to offend us, they’re not afraid to tell us what we are doing wrong, they’re not afraid to let us know when we have committed treason in the eyes of God.
Proverbs 27:6 (NKJV)6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.