So...I have a friend, who happens to also be a co-worker. She and I have worked together off and on for more than 6 years...and have been friends outside of work as well. She is well acquainted with my beliefs, but is not interested in developing a faith of her own. I wish she were...and she knows that I am more than willing to share at any time. Over the years, we have come to an understanding--I sadly respect that she doesn't want to hear about my Savior and she respects--for the most part--that I have a dependence on God. She was not raised to have any desire for fellowship with God, which baffles and saddens me.
That said...she's a nice lady, raising a cool kid. That cool kid has made friends with another cool kid--both of whom are headed to middle school in the fall. This cool new friend was allowed to enjoy the friendship--UNTIL New Friend's Christian Mom found out that these folks are unchurched AND (horror of horrors!) that my friend WORKS. (Yes, I know--can you believe it?) Yesterday, New Friend's Mom terminated the budding friendship, stating that they are "uncomfortable building relationships with people outside the church." Nothing happened, save the exchange of this tidbit of information.
At first blush, I can understand this. I can sympathize, even. Who doesn't want to surround their children with nothing but folks who share their belief systems?? But the more I think about it, the more angry I become. Aren't we called to love and to share our faith? This family had a WONDERFUL opportunity to reach a child (and through him, his family) and provide a witness--and maybe plant some seeds of faith. This gal didn't ask if my friend was open to church attendance or to her son participating in church activities (she is willing to encourage whatever belief systems her son wishes to investigate). In fact, he attends church often with his father. (oops...forgot that the other strike against 'em...this is my friend's second marriage...)
You know, I understand the "guilty by association" thing. The "garbage in, garbage out" theory. But what about "in the world but not OF the world"? Then I wonder...perhaps she is concerned that her son isn't strong enough in his own faith that he could be easily led astray. The bummer here is that he's not an astray leading type--not even close. But the actions of this mom have cemented my friend's view that Christianity is exclusionary and elitist...and has now left that impression on a young boy. What message are we sending, people???
I guess this situation frustrates me a lot because I've tried sooooo hard to show my friend a different kind of Christianity than she's been exposed to before. I don't know that I'll ever be blessed to lead her to the Lord, but I'm praying that I'm planting seeds. (I acknowledge the role of selfish pride here in the preceeding statements--just as I KNOW that God will use this experience in my friend's life as part of His plan!) And I have been blessed with small signs of God working in her heart... A few years ago, she laughed when I would offer to pray for her, now she *asks* for prayers for her family, she *asks* my opinion on religious matters, and when aforementioned cool kid was asking questions about God, she asked me to answer them.
As Christians, we walk a fine line...trying to exert a positive, Christ-like influence on a fallen world when we live in that fallen world ourselves. It's confusing and enough to make you crazy, isn't it???
Thoughts, my friends???