I remember the day clearly.
I was in my college dining hall when I ran into an acquaintance from my hometown.
We started chatting and he invited me over to meet his boyfriend. I agreed and had your standard, quick and friendly, “nice to meet you” conversation. There was absolutely nothing wrong with showing hospitality, but my internal dialogue was another story.
I am being so progressive right now. I hope they accept me and think I’m forward-thinking.
College campuses can be a hostile environment to the values God tells us to honor. Condoning homosexuality was a popular cause on my campus, and I was tired of the labels thrown my way because I wouldn’t bend to it.
So when I talked to my friend and his boyfriend, I shooed away the gentle nudge to mention what God was doing in my life — something I’d normally do in any other conversation.
That probably wouldn’t go over well. Just smile and nod. You don’t want them to think you aren’t a tolerant, accepting person.
As I walked to my dorm after our chat, I felt another gentle nudge on my heart.
I don’t remember how the following scripture came to my attention, but it did, and it was one of those rare moments where God’s Word pierced my heart.
“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (James 4:4)
I must emphasize that this verse is not saying Christians are not to be friends with unbelievers. In fact, Jesus spent a majority of His ministry serving and loving those who were deep in sin.
Instead, God was addressing the very thing that was wrong with my heart. I was pandering to the world’s “friendship” at the expense of my relationship with God.
Friendship With the World
College campuses aren’t the only places hostile to God’s Word. Our culture as a whole is, and increasingly so. As America departs from cultural Christianity, staying faithful to Jesus in word and action is going to get difficult.
I looked up the definition of friendship, and some of the definitions I came across included “a bond or alliance.” If you ally yourself with a certain cause, you are also by default pitting yourself against an opposing force.
God and the world are opposing forces.
While God loves our world (see John 3:16), our world does not love God. In fact, the Bible tells us that the world is in opposition to Him and His kingdom because it is under the sway of the evil one.
That means I need to be on guard against any philosophy, opinion or agenda that is an attack on God’s kingdom, regardless of who thinks what about me.
Friendship With God
So, back to my story in the dining hall. I knew in that encounter it was God and not legalism confronting me because my spirit felt convicted but not condemned. I didn’t feel that God was yelling at me; instead, I felt that I had dishonored Him, and He was bringing that to my attention. He was also bringing to light the eventual path my thinking would lead me toward.
The realization about what I had done brought tears to my eyes. The fact is, I didn’t want my friend and his boyfriend to know that I was God’s friend. I was ashamed of Him, so I didn’t mention Him or try to introduce Him into our conversation.
Another crucial aspect that I missed in the moment was that God desired to be their friend as well. He longed for a relationship with them, and I could’ve served as an ambassador to point towards Him.
I asked God to forgive me, and He did.
I wish I could say that I never gave in to that temptation again; I have. I can so identify with Peter. One minute I feel bold as a lion, and next I‘m ducking and running for cover. But just as Jesus restored Peter, He forgives and restores me as I struggle, trip and sometimes fall.
After all, that is what friends do.