n the innermost circle, intimacy, you have a small group of friends—probably just three or four—that profoundly shape you, and vice versa. If you’re married, your spouse goes in this circle. These need to be people that share the ultimate convictions you have. These are the ones that forecast your future.
In the next circle, influence, you have a larger number of friends. You influence them, and they influence you—not as
In the outermost circle, care, you have the largest number of friends, including more casual acquaintances. These are people that you love and care for. You legitimately want the best for them and are willing to sacrifice for them, sometimes in stunning ways. But the shaping influence, in both directions, is lower. These can (and should) be Christians as well as non-Christians.
The mistake I often see isn’t that Christians have too many non-Christian friends but that people who should be in the care or influence circles are actually in the intimacy circle.
One of the most heart-breaking ways I see Christians flout this is in dating. Your spouse should be your closest and most influential friend. And yet, I so often see Christians pursuing romantic relationships with non-Christians. I want to shake them and ask, “Do you have any idea what you are doing to your future?”
You say, “Well, I think this relationship is different.” You imagine that you really can change your boyfriend. Things just feel so right when you’re together. Plus, you know
And yes, God’s grace is amazing. I have seen him dramatically change people you’d never expect. If you are currently married to a non-Christian, obey Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7, stay true to your spouse, and pray like crazy for God to move. But why would you jump into that situation on purpose? Do you know what it’s called when you willfully break God’s rules and then look to him to fix everything? It’s called mocking. And God will not be mocked.
Besides, is this really a gamble you want to take? Now that I’m a father, I realize that the single most important person in the lives of my children is my wife. If you’re dating a non-Christian, you’re implicitly saying that you don’t really care about the salvation of your future kids. Don’t gamble with your kids’ eternity for the sake of a romantic thrill (that won’t last anyway).
Sermons might inspire you, but it’s your community that shapes you. So in your friendships—your marriage chief among them—choose with wisdom.
Your future you will thank you.
This article was written by J.D. Greear and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.
- How Can And Should A Christian Apologize?
- Why Do Some People Love Jesus, But Don't Like The Bible?
- 10 Things You Should Know About Temptation
- Are Christians Starting To 'Idolize' Coffee?
- We Need To Stop Wasting The Time We Have In Church
Read more about Christian Living »