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9/24/2006

WHY CAN'T WE BE FRIENDS?

I'm not asking how you're doing so I can "share Jesus" with you. I'm not listening to you so you'll listen to me talk about God. I'm not hanging out with you so I can make you a Christian.

I'm your friend because I'm one. And being one makes me love people. Makes me love you.

Sorry for all the Christians you got burned by before me. Relatives. Friends. Co-workers. Fellow passengers on airplanes. The ones you say treated you like a deer in the last minutes of the season. The ones you say thought of you as a customer and schemed and pushed religion like a line of AmWay products. Those people are like relatives you hope no one ever meets I guess, the ones on Jerry Springer or the ten o'clock news - I love them, I really do, but they're not the cousins I'd introduce you to first at a family reunion, you know?. They mean well, but...

Sorry about them.

What do you say I just keep being me and you keep being you and we keep hanging out just because, even if you never believe Jesus is God and even if I never like NASCAR or vote Republican? Deal?

26 Comments:

Blogger Brody Harper said...

Sounds good to me. Can still be friends even though I am a Californian and you are a Texian though?

9/24/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Let me pray about that.

9/24/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Great point to a point. I think we get so busy "evangalizing" sometimes we forget to cultivate friendships. True friendships take time to build and much effort on the part of both parties. While this should always be the starting point and shouldn't change no matter what one's acceptance or rejection of the gospel might ultimately be, it would be impossible (for me anyway) to be a genuine friend to anyone without sharing the gospel (provided they weren't already Christians). If I didn't share, I would be failing them on the most basic level of friendship; love.

As far as the California/Texas debate; pray, but don't be afraid to step out of your "comfort" zone on this one. With much guidance and a healthy dose of discernment, you could be friends with the "Californian," just don't leave him alone with your vegetable garden!

Beth

9/24/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Friendship makes it possible to talk about all the things important to us, including religion, but talking about my religion is not the reason for entering into or maintaining my friendships.

Friends want the best for each other so if they know something they think could help their friend, like religion, then, yes, that gets shared, even strongly encouraged and deeply explained, even debated and picked apart. But I don't enter into friendship to spread my religion.

That's the distinction I didn't hear growing up in church (or at church this morning).

9/24/2006  
Anonymous hollybird said...

I think we need to get away from ther term "religion". It's not my religion that makes me want to share my Jesus with my friends. It's my relationship with Him. I see it like this... when I first gave birth to my son, I told everyone about him, not because I was trying to be selfish or not hear them. It was just because I was so in love with that little boy! I couldn't help it; it just oozed out of me. Why don't I love Jesus that much, that it oozes out of me?

I agree totally that no friendship should be entered into for the sole purpose of spreading religion. But, when we are so in love with the God of the universe that we can't help but talk about all He has done and is going to do for us, then it just naturally happens. I think that the best compliment we can receive is for someone to say to us, "Why are you always so nice to me?" because that opens the door for us to say, in return, "becuase Jesus did this for me...".

Scripture says that there is no greater love than this... that a man lay down his life for his friends. How many friends do I have that I would truly do that for? It's not about telling them about Jesus so much, in my opinion, as it is about SHOWING them Jesus.

Good discussion....

9/24/2006  
Blogger John H said...

bravo, Shaun. If we all just shed the 'religion' and attempted spirituality, I think the world would look like something you are describing in this post.

thanks.

9/24/2006  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

I agree. I don't enter into relationships for the purpose of sharing the gospel with someone either. I think it takes time to be able to show someone Jesus so that they will want to know Him too. I think that's why so many outside the church are so critical of the church. They see us deny our faith by our lifestyle everyday. It's not up to me to determine whether or not someone is a believer, but it is up to me to make sure I'm not the reason they don't know Jesus in the end.

I heard in church today a great deal about friendship. It was focused today of friendship of fellow believers, but none the less focused on how important friendship is to all of us.

Beth

9/24/2006  
Blogger Mustard Packet Pelter said...

WHAT?! NO NASCAR!?!...oh wait I'm not a Nascar fan...yep we're a-okay...nevermind carry on everyone nothing to see here.

Yeah believe that we do sometimes forget to be a friend and we someimtes get pushy...or at least I do. I lost a friend because of my own desire to get him saved and I fear that I pushed him so far away he'll never wanna seek what's right. And I've got to live with that on my shoulders for the rest of my life. It sucks.

9/24/2006  
Anonymous Rich said...

I am a left-coast dude, but I loved living in TX!

One myth is that there are really that many who actually share their faith the way you describe. Are there? I think I know what is under your skin, but this sounds a bit reactive or dare I say "holier-than-thou". Perhaps it is just a theological difference with others that is being played out here. Yes, there are a lot of cookie-cut ideas that have been around with evangelism, but millions have been saved, even though these ideas (4 Spiritual Laws, for instance) have run their course.

Friends don't let friends drive drunk. Friends don't let friends escape the wide path--we care about their eternity because in the end it matters more than hanging out at Starbucks with them. Would we dare offend with the gospel? I think that a true friend is concerned about the other person's most basic needs: health, life, death, etc. Of course, I can "hang" with anyone and not expect them to accept the ideas I espouse and life I choose. But, would I lay my life down for them?

9/24/2006  
Blogger Zach Tanksley said...

I suppose in the long run of things I would be ashamed to say that I never looked at my friends with the desire to introduce them to something greater. To reach out to them as a friend who loves them and show them something wonderful.

Oh the methodlogy varies so much from person to person. But we only can use what tools we know we have can't we? When I knew how to use a track, I used a track, but when I learned to love, I worked with love.

And sometimes that love, means being upfront, honest, and simple with the message of salvation. If we don't tell them how to find it, when can they choose to take it?

9/24/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I'm not suggesting you NOT share what's important to you (religion/spirituality etc) with the people you love (ie friends). I'm suggesting we not create "friendships" only for the purpose of converting people to our religion/spirituality. Is that clearer?

And, I'm sticking with the word "religion" because, to me, it means what I mean to say. Religion is a latin word that means "to bind" and I'm bound to Christ (a slave, a committed follower, a bride). I'm bound. And that binding relationship is foundational to so much that I do, feel and think in life - not the least of which is telling people I love about the God I love.

Rich, holier than thou? Amazing how ten people can read the same words and interpret them so many different ways. Sorry if I came across that way - not the spirit of this post at all.

And no, it's not a theological difference with anyone being played out publicly here on my blog. It's a wording issue being clarified and challenged here on my blog. I think the folks I hear encouraging me and others to "build relationships with non-Christians as a means of evangelism" would agree that those relationships aren't real relationships if they're built ONLY to convert folks to my religion. But, trouble is, they don't say that. So, I have non-Christian friends who've been hurt. They've had "relationships" with "friends" about as true and meaningful as myspace marketers: be my friend so I can sell you something.

Not the sort of relationships they, or anyone else, are after. And, I think, but you can challenge me on this, not the sort of relationships Jesus had with the "sinners and tax collectors" he drank with two thousand years ago. Agree?

9/24/2006  
Anonymous euphrony said...

When I think of this topic, I think of Sara Groves' song "Conversations"

"I don't know how to say this, I don't know how to stand, I don't know where to put my feet, or where to put my hands.I've got them in my pockets, my fingers are freezing cold, they're wrapped around a ticket stub that's four weeks old, and I don't know how to say this. . I think we've figured out this world is bigger than you and I. We've exhausted our wealth of knowledge and have no more answers for mankind. . Chorus: We've had every conversation in the world about what is right and what has all gone bad, but have I mentioned to you that this is all I am, this is all that I have. . I'm not trying to judge you. That's not my job. I am just a seeker too, in search of God. . Somewhere somehow this subject became taboo. I have no other way to communicate to you. This is all that I am. This is all that I have. . Chorus . I would like to share with you what makes me complete. I don't claim to have found the Truth, but I know it has found me. . the only thing that isn't meaningless to me is Jesus Christ and and way he set me free. This is all that I have. This is all that I am"

Forgive me fo block-quoting the lyrics, but it says more than I can.

9/24/2006  
Anonymous Rich said...

Shaun,

Thanks for such a gracious response.

Agree? Yes. I agree whole labeling thing is indeed tricky. So, to your readers, I concur about the deception part when making friendships. That is damaging and fake.

Your post was written this way: sorry for them, I am not one of them. Now, I would say that it could be "sorry about 'us'" instead of "them". My only concern is an "us and them" theme I have been reading a lot of lately. The idea of "no religion but a relationship" has become a new legalism. It is a bar that we can easily set to distunguish being on the right side of things.

Thanks for being the positive influencer and passionate artist that you indeed are.

9/24/2006  
Anonymous hollybird said...

Let me clairfy what I said earlier about not using the term religion. I have many friends who are turned off by Christians because they say that there are too many rules to religion. I think it has some negative connotations, simply by means of ignorance. I agree 100% with you Shaun that the TRUE meaning of religion is to be bound to something. However, if that term is confusing to my non-Christian friends, I choose to use the term relationship instead when talking about Jesus, meaning that I am all about being intimate with Him, in total and constant communication with Him. That relationship does have responsibility... to be like the relationships that Jesus lived out in scripture. I cannot be half-hearted in any friendship and expect that that person will want to hear about my salvation. Only when I am authentic in that relationship, blatantly honest about the good and the bad, is it going to be life-changing. And I think that all of our relationships should be life-changing. I am called to make a difference in this world, and I can do that by the way i treat the people around me.

One thing that gets me in the church today (at least in my church) is that we try really hard to look and act our best. Well, sometimes I don't feel my best. And there is nothing wrong with saying that "i can't feel God right now, but deep within me, I KNOW He is still there". To me, that is true authenticity and true friendship. Not to make everything sound great and sunny, but to be honest about the junk in the world and how God is bringing me through.

9/24/2006  
Blogger Brody Harper said...

This is an email I got just a few weeks ago from a FRIEND of mine, that I worked with for two years. I never went into getting to know him in order to "witness" to him, but I was able to become friends with him and we were able to open up to each other. I agree with Shaun 100%.


Brody,

I just got home from working 15 hours. We have a new person at work named Rene. A Baptist, and loves the lord.
I told her tonight Brody that you are the reason that I believe in my king Jesus, that he died for me.
It’s amazing man, it’s like the lord puts people in my life that always love him and that are always around me.
I don’t know if you prayed that one day I would accept the gift of salvation, but if you did Thank you.
I just wanted you to know that you are the main reason I am becoming the person I am.
Ok talk to you later

John

Ps I have not been drinking hahaha
I am sober , and tired so good night.

9/24/2006  
Anonymous hollybird said...

that is a beautiful testimony to the power of God!

9/24/2006  
Anonymous keith said...

I appreciate your last comment that provides clarification, Shaun, although I don't mean to butt-kiss. ;) A wise elder at my church points to 1 Corinthians 15:3 (man, I keep coming back to that chapter in my comments) and Romans 1:16 as verses that guide his interactions with anyone (friends, acquaintances, telemarketers, astronauts, etc.). I guess he doesn't try to build relationships to share the gospel. He just tries to share the gospel, quick. He says the power to save a life is in the message itself, not in anything he can do.

Sure. Jesus drank with tax collectors two thousand years ago, and when He did, He said, "Salvation has come to this house." I am to follow His example, but I can not say, "Salvation has come to this house," just by eating and drinking with them (i.e. being their friend). I'm not Jesus. I must introduce them to Jesus, and this can not be done compeletely without sharing the gospel message... with words... heard or read... or maybe telepathically transmitted if you're a mutant.

If we're of the mindset that sharing the gospel is of first importance, then we will initiate relationships so that someone can hear the gospel, but if we're loving like we should, each friendship will involve so much more.

9/24/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

The butt-kissing days are behind us around these parts for sure! ; )

Again, keith, am I reading into your comment too much or are you under the impression that I'm suggesting folks NOT tell people they care about about Jesus? I'm not saying that at all.

9/24/2006  
Blogger Rachel said...

Hey Shaun.

I suppose I understood what you said right off, thought it's always interseting to see the philosophical/theological debates that arise from this blog.

In response to your post, I'll say this: deal.

Hope this finds you well.

Rachel

9/25/2006  
Anonymous keith said...

No, I understand that you think it's important to talk about Jesus. It just seems to me that Paul teaches us to share the gospel as of first importance while you are saying we should be friends as of first importance. You seem to imply that if we're not friends, then the gospel won't be effective while in Romans, we see that the gospel itself is powerful, and in 1 Corinthians, we see that the message itself, when God Himself is behind it, is more effective than any way we can relate to a person. The relationship is important, but the message is of first importance.

These thoughts are based on your initial post. I found that I agreed with more of what you said in your third comment above. I guess I would take it one step further and say that we should establish friendships, if not for the sole purpose of sharing the gospel, for the main purpose of sharing the gospel. It is of first importance, so we should get to it early.

9/25/2006  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

"You seem to imply that if we're not friends, then the gospel won't be effective"

Not said, not implied, not thought. Not true.

I think you're over-analysing the post. I said what I meant and implied nothing. It really is much less diabolical than you're wanting it to be. ; )

9/25/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaun,

You are a glutton for punishment with these posts!!!

I appreciate true Christians who love people for who they are and not where they attend church, or what religion they are or try to stuff the bible down your throat! Would you believe I have a "friend" who is a wonderful friend. Loves her family, friends, church, etc... she told me to join a particular church and bible study so I could get a baby shower and free meals after the baby is born!! She's always trying to get me to go to church, but isn't that marketing the church in a bad way?

I have to admit, I like you for your hair... not your "religion", or your SHLOG, or your songs. You got good hair man! Oh yeah... and you are a good friend.

No reading between the lines here, because I'm not analysing anything.

Kim

9/25/2006  
Blogger Amy said...

Yeah, I think I get it. We have to love people first and foremost for who they are, free of personal agendas. I think we are often guilted as Christians to always be sharing the gospel. And I think we should share the gospel, but not to ease our own consciences but rather out of true love.

9/25/2006  
Anonymous keith said...

Sorry if it seems like I think or want you or your words to be devilish. That's not the case.

I guess this statement was the source of my perceived implication: "Friendship makes it possible to talk about all the things important to us." I'm an engineer, and I guess in my overly analytical mind, I subconsciously took its inverse, no friendship makes it impossible to talk about all the things important to us, and derived the implication. It seemed pretty strong to me, but this statement is much stronger: "Not said, not implied, not thought. Not true." Thanks for clearing that up and helping me analyze my own analysis.

9/25/2006  
Blogger kslus said...

I totally agree Shaun. I know MANY people who believe that we must befriend the "unsaved" so that they may one day be saved. Being their "friend" should be a means to an end. In my experience, these people tend to have controlled, superficial relationships with very little depth. I was once one with this mindset so I speak from experience.

9/25/2006  
Blogger Woman of Faith said...

I really enjoyed this post and have some thoughts to share from a message I heard this week at my community bible study. Come on over to my blog to hear about it.

10/06/2006  

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