Embrace chances to spread God's word
The Rev. Bill Hurlbutt, senior pastor, Christ Community Church, 1100 Kasold Drive:
Throughout my years in ministry, I have had many individuals come to me very excited because they have found a new place to work where the majority of their co-workers are Christian. They are excited because of the Christian environment they will now be able to experience on their job, but is that what Jesus would have done? It seems to me the world he came to was anything but Christian.
I have told the congregation of Christ Community several times that if they were to limit themselves to a Christian job environment, they would be missing out on one of the major desires Jesus has for them: sharing their faith with those who do not possess it. In most cases I tell them it would be better to find another position where they can let their faith be seen by nonbelievers.
It is not only right to befriend nonbelievers, it is imperative. If we truly believe that our only hope in this world is in Jesus Christ and what he has done on our behalf on the cross of Calvary, then it should be a priority to initiate friendships with those with whom we can share our faith.
If you are a nonbeliever and need a friend, you can find one at Christ Community. And if you are a Christian working in a totally Christian environment where you feel safe, find another job where you can let your faith light shine in this world.
- Send e-mail to Bill Hurlbutt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friends need not agree on all matters
The Rev. Marcus McFaul, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, 1330 Kasold Drive:
This is a question that would not have occurred to Jesus, who befriended just about everyone, especially those considered "off-limits." What is the essential criteria for a friendship? Must there be total agreement on all matters, even something as important as religious faith, in order to be in relationship with someone?
Now to be sure, Christian or faith-based friendships can be rewarding and meaningful because of shared values, purposes and goals (though there, too, is great diversity). Augustine called the church "the company of friends." Certain friendships can go well beyond mutual affection or likability, and such relationships draw us out of ourselves and our tendency to self-centeredness. I believe that it makes a difference who your friends are. It makes a difference who your company of friends is.
However, an implied attitude and posture posed by the question is one of fear and retreat. If one's faith is so fragile it cannot be exercised with another whose beliefs or nonbeliefs are different, what good is it? Henri Nouwen once wrote of the "risk of friendship," the vulnerable aspects that any worthy relationship must acknowledge. The risk is in being stretched by the encounters and conversations with friends.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "My friends have come unsought. The great God gave them to me." Perhaps the challenge isn't to demand homogeneity but to see, value and sustain the diverse friendships God has given us.
- Send e-mail to Marcus McFaul at email@example.com