Friends with Benefits
by Stephen Sanders, Salem A/V Editor
"Everything is permissible"--but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible"--but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others. -1 Corinthians 10:23-24 (NIV)
Anyone who has been a Christian for an amount of time has probably experienced an unfriendly encounter with another believer. It’s just inevitable. People have bad days, become influenced by the wrong things and make the wrong decision sometimes. Christians, in our culture specifically, also have a tendency to be very judgmental...and that is probably a bigger problem than most of us realize.
In recent months, I’ve seen really strong arguments online about a variety of issues. Here are a few:
-Can someone watch Harry Potter movies and still be a Christian?
-Can someone drink an alcoholic beverage from time to time and still be a Christian?
-Is it God’s will for all Christians to be rich?
-Should Christians take medicine for illness or trust God for healing?
-Why did God create people that He knew would go to hell?
As you read some of these, you probably immediately formed an opinion based on what you have found to be “true” in the Bible or in your Christian walk. Maybe you have spent countless hours stewing over and standing for one of the sides to these arguments because you feel so strongly about them. You could be one of the few people who don’t get caught up in such arguments and, for that, I salute you. But, regardless of who you are, there is a very important lesson to learn from all of this.
God has made it perfectly clear in the Bible that it is His will for Christians to be a light to this world. He has called us to be a people who draw the lost to Him, who share the Good News with those around us in order for them to be reconciled to Him. Those who are not Christians should look at us and see a group of people who love one another. This we know.
However, there are some things that we do not know for sure. We have not been given the ability to look into the hearts of other Christians and know what motivates them. It is absolutely impossible for any of us to walk in the same shoes as those around us come to the same conclusions about the issues of life. But isn’t it funny how sometimes we still try?
Is Harry Potter something that Satan could use to pull a believer closer to him? Perhaps, but I think that he would be far more likely to use something or somebody far more unlikely to do it...like another believer. Could a Christian become addicted to alcohol and do damage to himself and others around him? Yes, but could a Christian also practice moderation and shame the devil? Definitely. Did God create people that He knew would go to hell? If so, does that really change the way we have been called to behave and minister to those around us? Absolutely not.
Intersecting Faith & Life: Everyone has their own perspective on what is beneficial or what should be permissible. This week, step outside of your regular circle of Christian friends and create some bonds with some Christians that you may not see eye to eye with on all the issues. You might be surprised at just how much God will use that to grow you. You might just find that you receive something far more valuable than the satisfaction you get when you’ve proven your point: a friend.