Friends of the World —The pros and cons of friendship with non-Christians
This is a lesson about friendship with people of the world. We look at both the pros and cons of having friends who are not disciples of Christ.
Among saddest statements in the Bible: "He was in the world... he came to his own and his own did not receive him"(John 1:10-12).
Disciples of Christ experience the same rejection to some degree. "If the world hates you, you know that it hated me before you"(John 15:18-19)
These sayings cause us to think about the ramifications of having friends of the world...
1 The Prohibitions
...against having friends of the world
James warns that "a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God"(James 4:4).
With some people of the world we should not associate, because they try to corrupt us. "Bad company corrupts good morals"(1Corinthians 15:33-34).
However we should not disassociate ourselves from all immoral and worldly people "for then you would have to go out of the world"(1Corinthians 5:9-11)
Let us have friends of the world, but "not be partakers with them" in their disobedience to God (Ephesians 5:6-8,11)
2 The Problems
...with having friends of the world
Their lack of wisdom, light, and understanding. "The god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving"(2Corinthians 4:4)
Temptations in our exposure to sexual immorality, alcohol and other drugs, pagan ideas and arts, disrespect for law, and so forth. One has to maintain "pure and undefiled religion ... to keep oneself unstained by the world"(James 1:27).
Conflicts between our friends' pursuits and our need to be "crucified to the world"(Galatians 2:20, 6:14).
Balancing our responsibilities and responses to our friends, with the necessity to "walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise"(Ephesians 5:15). For example, activities on Sunday (Hebrews 10:25).
3 The Prospects
...in having friends of the world
By being amongst people of the world, we can be instruments of the grace of God, "bringing salvation to all men"(Titus 2:11-15).
Sadly, "the whole world lies in the evil one" although we can be heartened that we Christians are not. Rather, "we are in him who is true"(1John 5:19-20). Thus we have an opportunity and responsibility to help people escape from Satan and join us in Christ.
Christians have "the light of life"(John 8:12). As Christians, you are able to "be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world"(Philippians 2:15).
Disciples of Christ do not shut themselves off from the world, but "go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature"(Mark 16:15-16). People are more willing to listen to friends than to strangers. Jesus himself was "the friend of sinners"(Luke 7:33-50).
I hope from this lesson you have gathered, among other things, an important distinction between two kinds of friendship with the world. Our friendship with the world is not the kind that condones, encourages, and participates in the wickedness of the world. Rather, our friendship with the world is the kind that helps us show the world the light of Jesus.