.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

09 May 2006

Birds of a (Different) Feather

Q: Is it wrong to have friends that are not of the same religion as me?

CathedralA: It’s not wrong in and of itself, but the Christian must exercise prudence. The wrong comes from compromising the Christian Faith (and your own faith in Christ) in order to please or accommodate your friends. Paul warns Christians, “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)” Likewise, Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” (John 17) shows how Christ leaves His Church in the world while still working to keep us from becoming part of the world.

Being “in the world” means that we don’t exist in a spiritual ghetto, walled off from contact with those who believe differently. Our vocations call us to live, work, and even socialize with worldly unbelievers. However, our Lord calls us to be faithful to Him. While it might cost us a few “friends,” a consistent, solid commitment to Christ in word and deed is a powerful witness through which God might call unbelievers to eternal life, making them co-heirs in the Resurrection. Giving in to non-Christian behavior for fear losing friends means that we’ve joined ourselves to the wrong beliefs.

Cramming ReligionYou don’t have to“cram religion down their throats” — in fact, few things could be more counterproductive in most circumstances. Instead, be faithful to your Lord and diligent in your vocation. Practice virtue. Be a true friend — not one who goes along to get along, but one who always works for the best interests of others.

As they learn to trust you, people often will share their problems and their dreams with you, inviting you to comment and make suggestions. In other words, they’re giving you permission to bring God’s Word into their hearts and minds. So I urge people to know the Scriptures not only for their own benefit but also for times when our worldly friends need God.

Along with this, knowing and understanding the Church’s creeds and confessions help us explain and proclaim Scripture — and especially to focus on Christ. Be able to restate them and apply relevant portions at the proper times. Also, be comfortable talking about the comfort, guidance, and protection you have because Christ is in your life. Move faith from the “theoretical” to the “practical” by applying the Scriptures to your own life and predicaments, then see how you might do the same for them.

Finally, don’t worry about botching your “presentation.” If you don’t have all the words or all the answers, realize that none of us do. While Christian don’t flaunt their sins, being honest about our own frailties and focusing on our own forgiveness through Christ helps others realize that their sins — which they may see more clearly after getting to know an authentic Christian — are also forgiven.

Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.

Technorati Tags: | | | |


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home