Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Things have been getting a bit mad in the broader evangelical world. It appears we are at a turning point in the road. One of the really nasty threats is that the church of Christ is being chopped up into pieces. Through all of our talk of gender roles, reconciliation and diversity, we have drifted from the doctrine of our one new man. No matter your gender, ethnicity, wealth, political party, past or present sin struggles, we are now members of thebody of Christ. That means we should at least be friends.

Proverbs says faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy (Proverbs 27:6).

Through recent conversations it has dawned on me that some believers are not all that friendly with other believers in Christ’s body. I am confident these I mention have the best of intentions. But they’re acting like patronizing enemies.

I have heard white brothers tell me it is not their job to point out their black brother’s sin. I heard them say they will police their own camp. I’ve been told they will correct the wrongs of their own tribe. I’ve heard of partial pastors choosing a less qualified black brother over a more qualified white brother to lead a church plant.

We really must see that at least one thing is going on here: These white brothers are not treating their black brothers as friends. When their friends make an error, they correct them. When their friends don’t make the cut, they tell them plainly and work with them to make them better. But they don’t say things like, “That’s not my job.”

The same issue occurs with brothers to their Christian sisters. Surely the Fall has resulted in men domineering over women. May men be readily called to repentance when they are guilty of doing so. But, Genesis 3 also tells us that the fall has resulted in the woman seeking to conquer the man. How often have you heard a Christian man encourage a Christian woman to repent of doing so?

The Father disciplines us because He loves us. I correct all my children for getting a little too close to the road — Because I don’t want them to die. We are a family. We use equal weights and equal measures. I understand there is presently great pressure to shift the standards in certain situations. But if we go on finding our identity more in a camp than in Christ, we will not stand.

On a related note, we need a full-fledged recovery of the law of God. Some may not see our current problem because they’re not clear on the law. They don’t know when one in the family is breaking God’s rules. When they do know, they don’t feel the gravity of what has been done. On the other hand, some are a bit too happy to go around wounding. They end up rebuking others who have not done anything wrong or correcting like a loveless Pharisee. These also do not know God’s law. They may know the legislation well enough, but they’ve forgotten the heart of our Father behind His law.

If we’re going to be faithful friends, we need a renewed sense of Christian identity and a recovery of God’s law. We need courage to do what friends do.

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