Friendship is a very important part of life. Our friends are the people we laugh and cry with.
We have fun with them during good times and turn to them for support when things get rough. When they’re struggling, we give them someone to lean on because we know they’d do the same for us.
Unfortunately, friends can sometimes interfere in your relationship with Christ, as we’re warned in the Bible:
Don’t be deceived! “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” —1 Corinthians 15:33
As a Christian, you know how important your relationship with Christ is because it’s at the core of your faith. Christianity is centered on His teachings, and if you stray away from them, you run the risk of drifting away from the church and from Jesus Himself.
What’s so bad about that distance? At first, it doesn’t seem like a big deal because it happens gradually. Your friends who don’t go to church might invite you out to other activities on Sunday morning. They’ll say, “Would it really hurt you to miss church this week? You go every Sunday, so you deserve a day off to have some fun.”
That might sound tempting and innocent, but if it starts happening regularly, you’ll fall into a trap. You’ll place more importance on doing other things, like playing a round of golf or going to the beach with friends, rather than spending that regular time with God. From there, it’s not a big leap to realize how much you like to sleep in on Sunday mornings. Before you know it, your church attendance is sporadic and your relationship with Christ is suffering.
What are the warning signs of friends distancing you from Christ? Perhaps the biggest red flag is when you realize that some of the people you’re close to don’t respect your faith. They try to turn you away from it rather than allowing it to be your priority.
Does a good friend try to talk you out of being true to the things that are most important to you? If so, beware. That person should respect something as important as your religious beliefs and be understanding and supportive when you put them into action.
How to Handle the Situation
If you believe certain friends are distancing you from Christ, that doesn’t always mean you have to terminate the friendship. Some people don’t even realize what they’re doing. If faith isn’t a big part of their own lives, they won’t understand its prominent place in yours. If they’re true friends, they’ll respect your relationship with Christ once you explain its importance.
Your first step should be discussing the situation. Point out the behaviors you’re not comfortable with and explain why. For example, you might say, “I really enjoy golfing with you, and I know you said that Sunday morning is the best time for you. However, going to church every week is a very important part of my faith. I like spending time with you, but I’m sure you can understand how I feel. Is there some other day we can play? Would afternoons work?”
A real friend will be sympathetic and look for an alternative with you. Someone who may be using you, or who just wants a friend of convenience, will act hurt or upset and refuse to work with you. If that happens, you’ll need to ask yourself if the relationship is worth continuing.
Seek God’s Guidance
God is always at work on our lives. True friends are a blessing that He sends to us as an enhancement to our walk on earth. The people who are most valuable in our lives laugh with us, cry with us and offer support in the areas where we need it most. Just as God is always with us, our real friends are steadfast, and we know we can count on them.
Sometimes God uses circumstances to teach us important lessons. We need to know how to recognize false friends and people who are using us. They might fool us for a while, but their true nature becomes apparent when they interfere in your relationship with Christ. When that happens, it’s time for some clean-up in your life.