Thursday: Widening Your Friendship Circle
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While a searching soul occasionally may approach a Christian and ask, “What must I do to be saved?,” for the most part believers must go out in search of the lost sheep. Some suggest that the church acts too much like a fortress from which a few people go out on a campaign or mission in order to collect some converts who are then admonished not to get too close to the world from which they have been saved. Whether this is true or just a perception is not the point. The point is that many Seventh-day Adventists have few, or no, meaningful relationships outside of the fellowship. Though it is important for us to avoid unholy influences, there is a degree to which such isolation detracts from our ability to reach people with the gospel message.1

Examine closely John 17:11–19. What do these verses reveal about the Christian’s place in the world? See also Col. 4:2–6

From these verses we can list the following truths about Jesus’ disciples and the world:

They are in the world (vs. 11).

They are not of the world (vss. 14, 16).

They are not yet to be taken out of the world (vs. 15).

Jesus sent them into the world (vs. 18).

We are all born into this world. While we are here, God also has a work for us to do in it. Just as with His first disciples, Jesus has sent us into the world to introduce whomever we can to Him and the promise of salvation He offers all humanity.

The challenge for each one of us is to intentionally expand our personal mission field. This may mean adjusting our lifestyle in order to rub shoulders with more unchurched people. This is not to say that we compromise principles, convictions, and values, but, rather, that we look for opportunities where we can, in clear conscience, interact with others in a way that will allow us to become both friends and, as a result, channels of God’s truth.

Often we major in sending out invitations for the people to come to us. Yet, Jesus actually told us to go to them. Thus, we need to ask ourselves if we have withdrawn too much from the world and therefore lost some of our evangelistic effectiveness?

Look at yourself: do you tend to be too insular, too remote from the world? Or, perhaps, are you too cozy with the world? How can you better learn to be in the world (and thus witness to others) and yet not be “of it”?

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Thursday: Widening Your Friendship Circle — 6 Comments

  1. This is my constant struggle. I was raised a fourth generation Adventist, went to Adventist schools from 1st through college, worked at an SDA camp and on campus in college, then worked in SDA schools as a teacher. I have no idea how to have healthy, wonderful friendships outside of the church. It is mostly the Sabbath issue; if events are all on Saturday, how do I respect the 4th commandment and have friendships?

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    • I sympathize with your plight, Jennifer. How do we reach a world with the gospel message from within a culture that seems focused on separating us from that world from the cradle on? It seems we either need to find answers that can work effectively within that context or if we cannot, we need to be questioning the context of Adventism.

      This dialogue is ongoing within the church, with some experimenting with new ways to reach across that cultural divide, and some others saying that we must pull back even further into a defensive withdrawal from engagement with the world. I worry about those who think that we already have all we need, and we should just cling to that and hang on for the Parousia. This seems to me to be too much like the Laodicean claim that they have need of nothing.

      I think it is not enough to simply cling to old and familiar practices. We also need the new. As Jesus said “Therefore every teacher of the law who has become a disciple in the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.” Matthew 13:52, NIV

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  2. Can anyone tell me the answer of the last question 'Look at yourself: do you tend to be too insular, too remote from the world? Or, perhaps, are you too cozy with the world? How can you better learn to be in the world (and thus witness to others) and yet not be “of it”?'

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  3. May we seek the power and intervention of Our Heavenly Dad. Do we have to doubt Him? No. May He lead us thru. Let us ask for better friendships from Him. He is Happy when we are not trailing. Oh God lead us through. Amen.
    Have a happy Sabbath people. Amen.

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  4. This leson is too vague and does not give enough bibical supporting fact's. I have seen over my years many good seventh day adventist fall flat on their face by becoming to friendy with wordly people. Or say it's OK to adapt to there customs. The word friends is used to losly in this lesson study so far. We're loseing not adding to Jesus in the USA.

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  5. Wow, the honesty is great in the replies. Speaking as a mere first generation SDA who moved around 15 times before the age of 18, I am a little horrified, or amazed, can I say? Too friendly with worldly people? I think you meant they compromised their principles (of their own free will). That would be sinning; which all of us do from time to time. Christ was the perfect "SDA", yet ate with prostitutes and politicians. Try not to get hung up on a person's outward appearance and love them as a fallen human being, same starting point we all have. Love to you.

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