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Witnessing and Friendship (Again)

Some time back I wrote a post titled Witness without Being a Pest. There are a number of things that make Christians pests when they witness, but I think the most important is when we think witnessing is a separate activity that we “do” as opposed to something that happens when we live. If you take the name of Christ (Christian), then you are a witness. You might be a very bad witness. You might even be driving people away, but you can’t not witness.

So when I caught wind of an article in Outreach titled My Jehovah’s Witness Broke Up with Me (HT: John Meunier), it drew my interest. I find the story and the article interesting and helpful, yet I can’t help but question certain things.

These two men got together for the purpose of converting one another. Was it ever likely that this friendship would last? How much “friendship” is produced by questioning one another’s faith for an hour each week? I don’t have a problem with such discussions when both parties want to be involved. But when you meet for the purpose of changing someone’s religion, I think trouble is around the corner. One problem is that doubtless someone will eventually detect the fact that you are in the conversation to change their religion.

Friendship can only be friendship when you’re not trying to get something out of it. I don’t mean the general mutual things friends do for one another. What I mean is a situation where one person is “friends” solely for the purpose of accomplish some goal. I suspect some Christians will object that in trying to change this other person’s religion, they are not trying to accomplish some personal goal. They’re trying to save the other person’s soul! It’s for their own good!

This reminds me of a Bible study group I led during a time of disunity in the congregation. At one point members of the group were complaining how the people of the other party in the church put them down, questioned their salvation, whether they “had” the Holy Spirit (who on earth can “possess” the Holy Spirit?), and so forth. After listening to the complaints, I asked them if they had not, perhaps, done many of those same things to non-Christians they encountered. Everyone was very honest and acknowledged that they had done precisely that. I had to confess that myself. It was an important lesson to us.

It’s not my job to save people. It’s simply my job to be a witness. Let God take care of the rest. If you’re getting nervous and thinking you have to push your friends into a decision, or if you feel that you need to make an end of an unfruitful friendship, then you need to do two things. First, check your motivation. If you find a friendship unfruitful, perhaps you were only there for what you could get. Second, check whether you truly trust God to do God’s work.

Just be who you are (a Christian) and be a friend. Sometimes talk will happen. Sometimes it won’t. Somebody might express great interest in your faith, and then again they might not. It’s not your problem, and it shouldn’t change your friendship.


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