"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

It Is Time to Get New Friends When...

On Tuesday mornings I meet with a group of men for fellowship and discipleship. Our small group, which has met for twenty-one years, alternates between theological books studies and chapter by chapter inductive Bible studies. Right now we are going through Jeff VanVonderen's book Tired of Trying to Measure Up. Jeff has a been a friend for many years. He is the author of several books and the professional interventionist on the Emmy winning show Intervention.

In this morning's study from the book, on page 181, we read a quote that struck us as pretty profound. Jeff wrote:"If the relationship you have in God's name don't say about you what God says about you, I recommend that you seek new ones."

Two things are needed to understand that statement: (1). A knowledge of what God says about you, and (2). A willingness to let go of Christian friends that don't say the same thing about you that God says.

Friends who shame you, friends who harbor grudges against, friends who expect or demand certain performance from you, friends who are disappointed in you as a person, friends who won't forgive you, friends who don't/won't/can't give you freedom, friends who get angry with you and close off emotionally from you, and friends who expect/need certain things from you are saying, "I have placed you on a platform of performance expectations, and if you don't meet my expectations,  I want nothing to do with you."

God does not treat you in this manner. If you have Christian friends who relate to you like this, then it is time to get new ones.

13 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

Good post. At least in the sense that, while we don't need to view them as friends, neither to we need to treat them as enemies.

I've seen Jeff many, many times on Intervention, and he's always struck me as something special. Now I know why.

Victorious said...

I have a very dear friend who has reminded me often (when I'm disappointed by how someone is treating me)..."Mary Ann, lower your expectations...."

That's worked for me without having to sever friendships. It seems unfair of me to expect others (especially unbelievers) to treat me the way I want to be treated when they may see me very differently than I see myself. :)

Could be wrong here....

Mary Ann


Christiane said...

reminds me of the Church's definition of 'love' . . .

wanting the good of the 'other' as 'other', in an unselfish way that does not seek personal gain from the other

if friendship has a required 'cost' to be befriended, that cancels out the caring aspect of what it means to want good for someone else without expecting something back from them

Christian people, in their way, can befriend any soul because we don't require that they approve of us, agree with us, 'atta-boy' us, or support us . . .

that leaves us free to care about our enemies and to care for our enemies,
and it leaves us able, through grace, to refuse to be the enemy of anyone on this earth

Aussie John said...

Wade,

Really sound advice!

Anonymous said...

Again, this begs the question I posted on your other post about 'giving grace to those coming out of the closet'...in about six places in the New Covenant Scriptures we see the command to stay away or avoid those who, one one hand say they love Christ, but, on the other hand, refuse to repent of an obvious sin that is taking the upper hand in their life. This would seem to be classified as an 'expectation' of some sort.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this, and I believe I'll order the book. Thanks! Ken

Wade Burleson said...

"I posted on your other post about 'giving grace to those coming out of the closet'...in about six places in the New Covenant Scriptures we see the command to stay away or avoid those who, one one hand say they love Christ, but, on the other hand, refuse to repent of an obvious sin that is taking the upper hand in their life. This would seem to be classified as an 'expectation' of some sort."

Simple answer.

When someone flaunts their sin (immorality, drunkenness, gossiping, lying, abusive power, etc...) and says "I'm a Christian and proud of my adulterous lifestyle (or fill in the blank with whatever other sin you wish), then you do something very simple.

You treat them as a publican or tax-collector.

That means, you consider them someone without Christ--lost--and in need of the life-transforming love and power of God.

Jesus didn't avoid the publicans and sinners. He hung around with them. So to answer your question (which I thought I did in my last post) you simply love them as people in need of God's grace!

I don't get into arguments of whether or not someone is a Christian. If they revel and boast in their immoral lifestyle I treat them as if they are not one - which means I love them.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Wade, I can't seem to find your response to my prior question.

In reference to Jesus's statement in Mtt. 18 about treating them as a tax collector or publican - I thought the inference was avoidance as Jews clearly hated them and avoiding hanging out with them at all costs...which would seem to go hand-in-hand with Paul's multiple statements to 'not eat with' or 'avoid' such people.

If Jesus was merely stating to continue to love and hang out with those who continually name the name of Christ and refuse to repent...there seems to be a much easier and clearer way to say this than to bring tax collectors into the picture.

As far as expectations - in the same chp of Romans 15 Paul says that we are to 'accept one another' and that we are capable of 'admonishing (or instructing)one another'. We all have expectations to some degree or another. It just seems your post was too short and unqualified for me to swallow what you are saying and possibly implying.

I have read Jeff's book 'Families where Grace is in Place' a while ago...might have to crack it out again. thanks, ken

Anonymous said...

Also - the text in Mtt.18:17 says to "treat them as you would as tax collector or a pagan". It doesn't say "treat them as I (Jesus) would...".

Tax collectors were seen as filthy thieves and pagans were viewed as dogs which 1st century Jews avoided.

It appears that the ideas from vs.15 is building into treating them differently (not in the same loving manner) if they don't ("refuses to") listen to the body's continual pleas to repent.

Am I way off base on this?

Rex Ray said...

Wade,
How is this verse interpreted?

“Let God’s curse fall on anyone…who preaches a different kind of Good News than the one we preached to you.” (Galatians 1:8 NLT)

“Good News” is the Gospel, so why is Paul angry at those preaching Jesus?

You know that I think I know the answer, but I just want to hear it from you. :)

Wade Burleson said...

Rex,

A different gospel is one that is not of grace, but works.

Ken,

I think the answer to your question was in the post itself (sorry, I should have been clearer).

Jesus seemed to get along famously with the publicans and tax collectors.

He took a whip after the self-righteous religious people. :)

Christiane said...

Hi WADE,

You wrote this:

'Jesus seemed to get along famously with the publicans and tax collectors.
He took a whip after the self-righteous religious people"


I think Corrie ten Boom would have likely agreed with you, Wade concerning Our Lord's 'firmness' with the hypocrisy of self-righteous people.
In her book 'The Hiding Place', she wrote this:

"“Oh, this was the great ploy of Satan in that kingdom of his:
to display such blatant evil
one could almost believe one’s own secret sin didn’t matter.”
(Corrie ten Boom)

downtownpastor said...

Thank you, Wade! Your perspectives are always so encouraging and infused with the marvelous grace of God. This sort of input would have been nothing short of life changing to me while I was a member of an abusive church a few years ago!

Rex Ray said...

Wade,

Your reply, “A different gospel is one that is not of grace, but works.” is the perfect answer.

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “You’ve stopped preaching and gone to meddling”.

You might think the same about this question:

Do these Scriptures teach works?
1. “…You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law.” (Acts 21:20 Holman)

2. “Judgment is without mercy to the one who hasn’t shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.” (James 2:12 Holman)

3. “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.” (James 2:24 Holman)