Our “Christian” friends versus Jesus: would we be willing to lose them to befriend sinners?

I have been having some great discussion on twitter and facebook about this thought and want to be sure my blog does not miss out. This platform allows a bit more thoughtfulness in general.  I am finishing up a sermon I am going to deliver this weekend and this thought came to me: would we be willing to lose our “so-called” Christian friends in order to befriend sinners? Understandably, there are some unanswered issues with such a question. But, I believe the question has merit. Let me explain.

First of all, Jesus says that to follow him we must be willing to literally face execution (take up your cross Matthew 16:24) and Jesus goes as far to remind us that we might lose all our family and if we are not ready for that then we are not ready to follow him. (Luke 14:26). He says if you do not “hate” them, then you cannot be his disciple.

My question has to do with willingness. If losing our life is the aim of following Jesus, do we have it in us to walk away from those Jesus might want us to walk away from? Or, by going to Jesus it is clear there will be people who will walk away from us.

Now, please understand that when I say “Christian” you can put “religious” or whatever in that slot. The issue is that Jesus is a “friend of sinners” (Matthew 11:19) and we are to be like Jesus. Those who claim to follow Christ would be friends of sinners, too. Right?

We live in our Christian bubble, nod at the same phrases, have our own music and love that our kids are safe in a youth group that hopefully has more Christian kids than not. However, this is what we should be willing to lose. We should be willing to lose our comfort for the cross of befriending those who do not know Jesus yet. Our church circle must be a place where we embrace those people who the religious hate.

I am excited about being able to speak this weekend at Sunridge and hope you can dialog and wrestle with me about some of the things Jesus said and the questions that come from that.

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Rich Kirkpatrick

Rich Kirkpatrick

Writer, Speaker, and Musician. Rich Kirkpatrick was recently rated #13 of the “Top 75 Religion Bloggers” by Newsmax.com, having also received recognition by Worship Leader Magazine as “Editor’s Choice” for the “Best of the Best” of blogs in 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.

80 comments

  1. This is such a non-question because according to what Jesus said, there is only one answer: yes.
    This is not to discredit the God’s gift of community and a new family that is given to all new believers.

    However, I wonder if Luke 14:26 still holds true for your new mom, new dad, new brother, new sister in Christ. What if your ministering, serving, loving, talking and walking with non-Christians gets you excommunicated from your “new” family.

    And even that is a slippery slope. Too many new/weak Christians (mostly college kids) break away from the church and think they are living the gospel by partying with non-believers. But if an outsider’s point-of-view cannot distinguish between you and the drunken frat boy or the party-all-night promiscuous girl, you are not living out the gospel of God.

    Matthew 11 is such a sweet passage because it shows the heart of Christ. He goes and eats and drinks with these tax collectors and prostitutes and taking every single moment to try to convey the love of God to them. It all starts with Matthew texting and calling everybody, “DOOD, you gotta come by crib. This dude Jesus is something else and he has completely changed my life… No, I don’t wanna get drunk… Yea, I don’t want to eat until I pass out… just come over. You gotta meet Him.”

    1. I think Jesus just means what he says–to follow him may mean loss of your literal life, family, friends. Of course, “fellowship” is an integral part of our walk and a separate issue. However, what if these “Christians” or religious people around us misunderstand our act of befriending those who are sinners? These religious people (even if family) we should not fellowship with then? Just asking.

      1. I am always reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: God came to save both the lost son and the older brother.

  2. This is such a non-question because according to what Jesus said, there is only one answer: yes.
    This is not to discredit the God’s gift of community and a new family that is given to all new believers.

    However, I wonder if Luke 14:26 still holds true for your new mom, new dad, new brother, new sister in Christ. What if your ministering, serving, loving, talking and walking with non-Christians gets you excommunicated from your “new” family.

    And even that is a slippery slope. Too many new/weak Christians (mostly college kids) break away from the church and think they are living the gospel by partying with non-believers. But if an outsider’s point-of-view cannot distinguish between you and the drunken frat boy or the party-all-night promiscuous girl, you are not living out the gospel of God.

    Matthew 11 is such a sweet passage because it shows the heart of Christ. He goes and eats and drinks with these tax collectors and prostitutes and taking every single moment to try to convey the love of God to them. It all starts with Matthew texting and calling everybody, “DOOD, you gotta come by crib. This dude Jesus is something else and he has completely changed my life… No, I don’t wanna get drunk… Yea, I don’t want to eat until I pass out… just come over. You gotta meet Him.”

    1. I think Jesus just means what he says–to follow him may mean loss of your literal life, family, friends. Of course, “fellowship” is an integral part of our walk and a separate issue. However, what if these “Christians” or religious people around us misunderstand our act of befriending those who are sinners? These religious people (even if family) we should not fellowship with then? Just asking.

      1. I am always reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: God came to save both the lost son and the older brother.

  3. This is such a non-question because according to what Jesus said, there is only one answer: yes.
    This is not to discredit the God’s gift of community and a new family that is given to all new believers.

    However, I wonder if Luke 14:26 still holds true for your new mom, new dad, new brother, new sister in Christ. What if your ministering, serving, loving, talking and walking with non-Christians gets you excommunicated from your “new” family.

    And even that is a slippery slope. Too many new/weak Christians (mostly college kids) break away from the church and think they are living the gospel by partying with non-believers. But if an outsider’s point-of-view cannot distinguish between you and the drunken frat boy or the party-all-night promiscuous girl, you are not living out the gospel of God.

    Matthew 11 is such a sweet passage because it shows the heart of Christ. He goes and eats and drinks with these tax collectors and prostitutes and taking every single moment to try to convey the love of God to them. It all starts with Matthew texting and calling everybody, “DOOD, you gotta come by crib. This dude Jesus is something else and he has completely changed my life… No, I don’t wanna get drunk… Yea, I don’t want to eat until I pass out… just come over. You gotta meet Him.”

    1. I think Jesus just means what he says–to follow him may mean loss of your literal life, family, friends. Of course, “fellowship” is an integral part of our walk and a separate issue. However, what if these “Christians” or religious people around us misunderstand our act of befriending those who are sinners? These religious people (even if family) we should not fellowship with then? Just asking.

      1. I am always reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: God came to save both the lost son and the older brother.

  4. This is such a non-question because according to what Jesus said, there is only one answer: yes.
    This is not to discredit the God’s gift of community and a new family that is given to all new believers.

    However, I wonder if Luke 14:26 still holds true for your new mom, new dad, new brother, new sister in Christ. What if your ministering, serving, loving, talking and walking with non-Christians gets you excommunicated from your “new” family.

    And even that is a slippery slope. Too many new/weak Christians (mostly college kids) break away from the church and think they are living the gospel by partying with non-believers. But if an outsider’s point-of-view cannot distinguish between you and the drunken frat boy or the party-all-night promiscuous girl, you are not living out the gospel of God.

    Matthew 11 is such a sweet passage because it shows the heart of Christ. He goes and eats and drinks with these tax collectors and prostitutes and taking every single moment to try to convey the love of God to them. It all starts with Matthew texting and calling everybody, “DOOD, you gotta come by crib. This dude Jesus is something else and he has completely changed my life… No, I don’t wanna get drunk… Yea, I don’t want to eat until I pass out… just come over. You gotta meet Him.”

    1. I think Jesus just means what he says–to follow him may mean loss of your literal life, family, friends. Of course, “fellowship” is an integral part of our walk and a separate issue. However, what if these “Christians” or religious people around us misunderstand our act of befriending those who are sinners? These religious people (even if family) we should not fellowship with then? Just asking.

      1. I am always reminded of the Parable of the Prodigal Son: God came to save both the lost son and the older brother.

  5. Rich, you are exactly right. The issue is our “willingness” to do WHATEVER Jesus asks of us. I think that too often we are only willing to do the things that are easy and convenient for us but not the things that challenge us and make us uncomfortable.
    In my own life I have chosen a bit of an uncomfortable road with an entire family that doesn’t know Jesus. My family has been surfacely supportive but I see through that and even see some of their disappointment in the choices that I have made to follow Jesus and to be willing to do whatever He asks of me.

    I am by no means perfect, nor do I have this idea of “willingness” perfected, but I am working on it. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing. I remember my wife and I losing our young adult Christian friends when we entered the ministry. It seemed like the phone just did not ring with these people. There is always a cost in following Jesus, right?

  6. Rich, you are exactly right. The issue is our “willingness” to do WHATEVER Jesus asks of us. I think that too often we are only willing to do the things that are easy and convenient for us but not the things that challenge us and make us uncomfortable.
    In my own life I have chosen a bit of an uncomfortable road with an entire family that doesn’t know Jesus. My family has been surfacely supportive but I see through that and even see some of their disappointment in the choices that I have made to follow Jesus and to be willing to do whatever He asks of me.

    I am by no means perfect, nor do I have this idea of “willingness” perfected, but I am working on it. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing. I remember my wife and I losing our young adult Christian friends when we entered the ministry. It seemed like the phone just did not ring with these people. There is always a cost in following Jesus, right?

  7. Rich, you are exactly right. The issue is our “willingness” to do WHATEVER Jesus asks of us. I think that too often we are only willing to do the things that are easy and convenient for us but not the things that challenge us and make us uncomfortable.
    In my own life I have chosen a bit of an uncomfortable road with an entire family that doesn’t know Jesus. My family has been surfacely supportive but I see through that and even see some of their disappointment in the choices that I have made to follow Jesus and to be willing to do whatever He asks of me.

    I am by no means perfect, nor do I have this idea of “willingness” perfected, but I am working on it. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing. I remember my wife and I losing our young adult Christian friends when we entered the ministry. It seemed like the phone just did not ring with these people. There is always a cost in following Jesus, right?

  8. Rich, you are exactly right. The issue is our “willingness” to do WHATEVER Jesus asks of us. I think that too often we are only willing to do the things that are easy and convenient for us but not the things that challenge us and make us uncomfortable.
    In my own life I have chosen a bit of an uncomfortable road with an entire family that doesn’t know Jesus. My family has been surfacely supportive but I see through that and even see some of their disappointment in the choices that I have made to follow Jesus and to be willing to do whatever He asks of me.

    I am by no means perfect, nor do I have this idea of “willingness” perfected, but I am working on it. 🙂

    1. Thanks for sharing. I remember my wife and I losing our young adult Christian friends when we entered the ministry. It seemed like the phone just did not ring with these people. There is always a cost in following Jesus, right?

  9. Wow so i agree with you all the way… last year at christmas time i transferred from a christian school to a public. IT was really tough and difficult and i made friends but they were all jahova witnesses and atheist. I wanted so badly to share my faith with them but i also wanted to have christian friends. People who i could share that sort of tie to. But it seemed like every where i looked there was none and those who professed to be christians certainly did not act like it. I begged God to send me one friend who had my faith but all i would get was another friend who had a wacko religion faith. I remember thinking why God why are you not giving me a single friend with the faith and love for God i hold. But you know how you said our church circle must be in place. Mine was, and i realized God had given me a good group of friends at church who were all very strong in him and now it was my job to get my own christian friend at school. By sharing Gods word with them. By befriending them,the sinner.

  10. Wow so i agree with you all the way… last year at christmas time i transferred from a christian school to a public. IT was really tough and difficult and i made friends but they were all jahova witnesses and atheist. I wanted so badly to share my faith with them but i also wanted to have christian friends. People who i could share that sort of tie to. But it seemed like every where i looked there was none and those who professed to be christians certainly did not act like it. I begged God to send me one friend who had my faith but all i would get was another friend who had a wacko religion faith. I remember thinking why God why are you not giving me a single friend with the faith and love for God i hold. But you know how you said our church circle must be in place. Mine was, and i realized God had given me a good group of friends at church who were all very strong in him and now it was my job to get my own christian friend at school. By sharing Gods word with them. By befriending them,the sinner.

  11. Wow so i agree with you all the way… last year at christmas time i transferred from a christian school to a public. IT was really tough and difficult and i made friends but they were all jahova witnesses and atheist. I wanted so badly to share my faith with them but i also wanted to have christian friends. People who i could share that sort of tie to. But it seemed like every where i looked there was none and those who professed to be christians certainly did not act like it. I begged God to send me one friend who had my faith but all i would get was another friend who had a wacko religion faith. I remember thinking why God why are you not giving me a single friend with the faith and love for God i hold. But you know how you said our church circle must be in place. Mine was, and i realized God had given me a good group of friends at church who were all very strong in him and now it was my job to get my own christian friend at school. By sharing Gods word with them. By befriending them,the sinner.

  12. Wow so i agree with you all the way… last year at christmas time i transferred from a christian school to a public. IT was really tough and difficult and i made friends but they were all jahova witnesses and atheist. I wanted so badly to share my faith with them but i also wanted to have christian friends. People who i could share that sort of tie to. But it seemed like every where i looked there was none and those who professed to be christians certainly did not act like it. I begged God to send me one friend who had my faith but all i would get was another friend who had a wacko religion faith. I remember thinking why God why are you not giving me a single friend with the faith and love for God i hold. But you know how you said our church circle must be in place. Mine was, and i realized God had given me a good group of friends at church who were all very strong in him and now it was my job to get my own christian friend at school. By sharing Gods word with them. By befriending them,the sinner.

  13. Yes, that’s what we do but I also don’t think we have to “lose our friends”We have our Christian friends for a time of accountability, refreshing, eating special meals, etc etc. Jesus split from his disciples to be friends and to love on others but he also had a “home base” his inner circle of friends. We need them.

    1. What if in serving Christ, your friends lose you? I believe sometimes that is the cost like i mentioned to Joseph in my comment back to him.
      Its not an easy thing to swallow. But, its possible that in following Jesus our very own may leave us behind. I never want it to happen, but it does and has.

      1. Then that’s a different story. We let them go. Jesus had a lot of people angry because he was eating with prostitues and tax collectors. He did it anyway. I’m sure those closest to him were asking him What are you doing?
        (Luke 19:10) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

        If we aren’t doing this then we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing. And we may lose friends in the process.

  14. Yes, that’s what we do but I also don’t think we have to “lose our friends”We have our Christian friends for a time of accountability, refreshing, eating special meals, etc etc. Jesus split from his disciples to be friends and to love on others but he also had a “home base” his inner circle of friends. We need them.

    1. What if in serving Christ, your friends lose you? I believe sometimes that is the cost like i mentioned to Joseph in my comment back to him.
      Its not an easy thing to swallow. But, its possible that in following Jesus our very own may leave us behind. I never want it to happen, but it does and has.

      1. Then that’s a different story. We let them go. Jesus had a lot of people angry because he was eating with prostitues and tax collectors. He did it anyway. I’m sure those closest to him were asking him What are you doing?
        (Luke 19:10) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

        If we aren’t doing this then we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing. And we may lose friends in the process.

  15. Yes, that’s what we do but I also don’t think we have to “lose our friends”We have our Christian friends for a time of accountability, refreshing, eating special meals, etc etc. Jesus split from his disciples to be friends and to love on others but he also had a “home base” his inner circle of friends. We need them.

    1. What if in serving Christ, your friends lose you? I believe sometimes that is the cost like i mentioned to Joseph in my comment back to him.
      Its not an easy thing to swallow. But, its possible that in following Jesus our very own may leave us behind. I never want it to happen, but it does and has.

      1. Then that’s a different story. We let them go. Jesus had a lot of people angry because he was eating with prostitues and tax collectors. He did it anyway. I’m sure those closest to him were asking him What are you doing?
        (Luke 19:10) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

        If we aren’t doing this then we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing. And we may lose friends in the process.

  16. Yes, that’s what we do but I also don’t think we have to “lose our friends”We have our Christian friends for a time of accountability, refreshing, eating special meals, etc etc. Jesus split from his disciples to be friends and to love on others but he also had a “home base” his inner circle of friends. We need them.

    1. What if in serving Christ, your friends lose you? I believe sometimes that is the cost like i mentioned to Joseph in my comment back to him.
      Its not an easy thing to swallow. But, its possible that in following Jesus our very own may leave us behind. I never want it to happen, but it does and has.

      1. Then that’s a different story. We let them go. Jesus had a lot of people angry because he was eating with prostitues and tax collectors. He did it anyway. I’m sure those closest to him were asking him What are you doing?
        (Luke 19:10) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”

        If we aren’t doing this then we aren’t doing what we are supposed to be doing. And we may lose friends in the process.

  17. Call me crazy, but I don’t think we should ask the “either/or” question at all. How is having loving relationships with other Christians contradictory to having loving relationships with sinners? Can’t we do both? Shouldn’t we do both?
    From what I see in scripture, God places a very very very high priority on Christians being unified – working together – getting along with one another. For “love one another” verses, see John 13:34 & 35, Rom 12:10, Rom 13:8, 1 Pet 1:22. The entire book of Ephesians addresses the unity of the church, as well as 1 John emphasizing how we are to get along together as brothers.

    This mandate can also be found in the imperatives urging Christians to meet together – Hebrews imploring us to not neglect it in 12:25; and Christ even promising that where two or more are gathered, He will be there as well (Matthew 18:20).

    If we pay close attention to mentions of spiritual gifts, they are always spoken of in the context of the unity of the Church. Of members of the Body working together. And of how we need each other. And how the gifts are given so we can all work together to accomplish Christ’s goal on this earth.

    Yes, Jesus says we are to hate our father/mother/etc. He is talking about family, not necessarily about fellow Christians. We don’t know that these family members are Christian. In fact, I would expect that at the time of this command, the family members mentioned were NOT Christians.

    The way I see it, God places a high value on the Church remaining together. And the New Testament spends a great deal of instructing Christians on how to do life and ministry together. There’s no reason for us to drop these team-mates, fellow-believers, co-heirs, brothers/sisters for the sake of non-believers. I actually think that our unity and love for one another will make us even more capable of reaching out to those outside of the Body of Christ.

    1. How about Paul dumping John Mark?
      How about putting out a sinful believer–disfellowship?

      There is precedent in the Bible, in other words.

      What is being said here is that “Christian” and Christian may be two different things. Also, its about our willingness to give it all up. Like I said, of course we need fellowship. But as in church discipline, sometimes there is a break. Or, in Paul’s case, he felt the gospel was not served by maintaining a partnership with Barnabas and John Mark. We still see love in these cases, just not proximity. Sometimes though, people will leave us and they will be our own church folk. If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.

      1. Rich,I agree that church discipline has it’s place, and that there’s a big difference between “Christian” and Christian. This discussion must tread lightly, though, because we are not fair judges of another man’s heart.
        Aside from that, I think we must have hearts that are more eager to “hold on” than to “let go” – Paul/Barnabas/John Mark did a LOT of talking before they split in two different directions. This is an example of what you’re asking, but this does not address real vs fake Christians. These guys were all truly serious followers of Christ. And this was not an easy decision for them.
        And, if we are to take things into the realm of Church discipline and accountability, excommunication is a very harsh and condemning act. Yes, there’s place for it in the life of the Church, but it stands as a last resort. And it stands in the context of dealing with an unrepentant “believer” after MUCH has been done to help this person come to truth.
        Yes, there’s precedent, but this precedent is encapsulated by a number of prior steps to hold things together. The bigger picture, I would still maintain, is that we are to be joined together in Kingdom work. I don’t think a church split, “for the sake of sinners,” is a justifiable suffering. I don’t see that as God’s way for the Body of Christ.

        1. ” If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.”
          Its not a matter of being justifiable, but of reality. There is a cost to reaching sinners. Sometimes the cost is that we lose friends who claim to be on the same team. The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.

          1. > “The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.”
            Oh! Yes, I’m willing and ready!

            ~JOSh-X

  18. Call me crazy, but I don’t think we should ask the “either/or” question at all. How is having loving relationships with other Christians contradictory to having loving relationships with sinners? Can’t we do both? Shouldn’t we do both?
    From what I see in scripture, God places a very very very high priority on Christians being unified – working together – getting along with one another. For “love one another” verses, see John 13:34 & 35, Rom 12:10, Rom 13:8, 1 Pet 1:22. The entire book of Ephesians addresses the unity of the church, as well as 1 John emphasizing how we are to get along together as brothers.

    This mandate can also be found in the imperatives urging Christians to meet together – Hebrews imploring us to not neglect it in 12:25; and Christ even promising that where two or more are gathered, He will be there as well (Matthew 18:20).

    If we pay close attention to mentions of spiritual gifts, they are always spoken of in the context of the unity of the Church. Of members of the Body working together. And of how we need each other. And how the gifts are given so we can all work together to accomplish Christ’s goal on this earth.

    Yes, Jesus says we are to hate our father/mother/etc. He is talking about family, not necessarily about fellow Christians. We don’t know that these family members are Christian. In fact, I would expect that at the time of this command, the family members mentioned were NOT Christians.

    The way I see it, God places a high value on the Church remaining together. And the New Testament spends a great deal of instructing Christians on how to do life and ministry together. There’s no reason for us to drop these team-mates, fellow-believers, co-heirs, brothers/sisters for the sake of non-believers. I actually think that our unity and love for one another will make us even more capable of reaching out to those outside of the Body of Christ.

    1. How about Paul dumping John Mark?
      How about putting out a sinful believer–disfellowship?

      There is precedent in the Bible, in other words.

      What is being said here is that “Christian” and Christian may be two different things. Also, its about our willingness to give it all up. Like I said, of course we need fellowship. But as in church discipline, sometimes there is a break. Or, in Paul’s case, he felt the gospel was not served by maintaining a partnership with Barnabas and John Mark. We still see love in these cases, just not proximity. Sometimes though, people will leave us and they will be our own church folk. If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.

      1. Rich,I agree that church discipline has it’s place, and that there’s a big difference between “Christian” and Christian. This discussion must tread lightly, though, because we are not fair judges of another man’s heart.
        Aside from that, I think we must have hearts that are more eager to “hold on” than to “let go” – Paul/Barnabas/John Mark did a LOT of talking before they split in two different directions. This is an example of what you’re asking, but this does not address real vs fake Christians. These guys were all truly serious followers of Christ. And this was not an easy decision for them.
        And, if we are to take things into the realm of Church discipline and accountability, excommunication is a very harsh and condemning act. Yes, there’s place for it in the life of the Church, but it stands as a last resort. And it stands in the context of dealing with an unrepentant “believer” after MUCH has been done to help this person come to truth.
        Yes, there’s precedent, but this precedent is encapsulated by a number of prior steps to hold things together. The bigger picture, I would still maintain, is that we are to be joined together in Kingdom work. I don’t think a church split, “for the sake of sinners,” is a justifiable suffering. I don’t see that as God’s way for the Body of Christ.

        1. ” If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.”
          Its not a matter of being justifiable, but of reality. There is a cost to reaching sinners. Sometimes the cost is that we lose friends who claim to be on the same team. The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.

          1. > “The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.”
            Oh! Yes, I’m willing and ready!

            ~JOSh-X

  19. Call me crazy, but I don’t think we should ask the “either/or” question at all. How is having loving relationships with other Christians contradictory to having loving relationships with sinners? Can’t we do both? Shouldn’t we do both?
    From what I see in scripture, God places a very very very high priority on Christians being unified – working together – getting along with one another. For “love one another” verses, see John 13:34 & 35, Rom 12:10, Rom 13:8, 1 Pet 1:22. The entire book of Ephesians addresses the unity of the church, as well as 1 John emphasizing how we are to get along together as brothers.

    This mandate can also be found in the imperatives urging Christians to meet together – Hebrews imploring us to not neglect it in 12:25; and Christ even promising that where two or more are gathered, He will be there as well (Matthew 18:20).

    If we pay close attention to mentions of spiritual gifts, they are always spoken of in the context of the unity of the Church. Of members of the Body working together. And of how we need each other. And how the gifts are given so we can all work together to accomplish Christ’s goal on this earth.

    Yes, Jesus says we are to hate our father/mother/etc. He is talking about family, not necessarily about fellow Christians. We don’t know that these family members are Christian. In fact, I would expect that at the time of this command, the family members mentioned were NOT Christians.

    The way I see it, God places a high value on the Church remaining together. And the New Testament spends a great deal of instructing Christians on how to do life and ministry together. There’s no reason for us to drop these team-mates, fellow-believers, co-heirs, brothers/sisters for the sake of non-believers. I actually think that our unity and love for one another will make us even more capable of reaching out to those outside of the Body of Christ.

    1. How about Paul dumping John Mark?
      How about putting out a sinful believer–disfellowship?

      There is precedent in the Bible, in other words.

      What is being said here is that “Christian” and Christian may be two different things. Also, its about our willingness to give it all up. Like I said, of course we need fellowship. But as in church discipline, sometimes there is a break. Or, in Paul’s case, he felt the gospel was not served by maintaining a partnership with Barnabas and John Mark. We still see love in these cases, just not proximity. Sometimes though, people will leave us and they will be our own church folk. If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.

      1. Rich,I agree that church discipline has it’s place, and that there’s a big difference between “Christian” and Christian. This discussion must tread lightly, though, because we are not fair judges of another man’s heart.
        Aside from that, I think we must have hearts that are more eager to “hold on” than to “let go” – Paul/Barnabas/John Mark did a LOT of talking before they split in two different directions. This is an example of what you’re asking, but this does not address real vs fake Christians. These guys were all truly serious followers of Christ. And this was not an easy decision for them.
        And, if we are to take things into the realm of Church discipline and accountability, excommunication is a very harsh and condemning act. Yes, there’s place for it in the life of the Church, but it stands as a last resort. And it stands in the context of dealing with an unrepentant “believer” after MUCH has been done to help this person come to truth.
        Yes, there’s precedent, but this precedent is encapsulated by a number of prior steps to hold things together. The bigger picture, I would still maintain, is that we are to be joined together in Kingdom work. I don’t think a church split, “for the sake of sinners,” is a justifiable suffering. I don’t see that as God’s way for the Body of Christ.

        1. ” If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.”
          Its not a matter of being justifiable, but of reality. There is a cost to reaching sinners. Sometimes the cost is that we lose friends who claim to be on the same team. The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.

          1. > “The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.”
            Oh! Yes, I’m willing and ready!

            ~JOSh-X

  20. Call me crazy, but I don’t think we should ask the “either/or” question at all. How is having loving relationships with other Christians contradictory to having loving relationships with sinners? Can’t we do both? Shouldn’t we do both?
    From what I see in scripture, God places a very very very high priority on Christians being unified – working together – getting along with one another. For “love one another” verses, see John 13:34 & 35, Rom 12:10, Rom 13:8, 1 Pet 1:22. The entire book of Ephesians addresses the unity of the church, as well as 1 John emphasizing how we are to get along together as brothers.

    This mandate can also be found in the imperatives urging Christians to meet together – Hebrews imploring us to not neglect it in 12:25; and Christ even promising that where two or more are gathered, He will be there as well (Matthew 18:20).

    If we pay close attention to mentions of spiritual gifts, they are always spoken of in the context of the unity of the Church. Of members of the Body working together. And of how we need each other. And how the gifts are given so we can all work together to accomplish Christ’s goal on this earth.

    Yes, Jesus says we are to hate our father/mother/etc. He is talking about family, not necessarily about fellow Christians. We don’t know that these family members are Christian. In fact, I would expect that at the time of this command, the family members mentioned were NOT Christians.

    The way I see it, God places a high value on the Church remaining together. And the New Testament spends a great deal of instructing Christians on how to do life and ministry together. There’s no reason for us to drop these team-mates, fellow-believers, co-heirs, brothers/sisters for the sake of non-believers. I actually think that our unity and love for one another will make us even more capable of reaching out to those outside of the Body of Christ.

    1. How about Paul dumping John Mark?
      How about putting out a sinful believer–disfellowship?

      There is precedent in the Bible, in other words.

      What is being said here is that “Christian” and Christian may be two different things. Also, its about our willingness to give it all up. Like I said, of course we need fellowship. But as in church discipline, sometimes there is a break. Or, in Paul’s case, he felt the gospel was not served by maintaining a partnership with Barnabas and John Mark. We still see love in these cases, just not proximity. Sometimes though, people will leave us and they will be our own church folk. If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.

      1. Rich,I agree that church discipline has it’s place, and that there’s a big difference between “Christian” and Christian. This discussion must tread lightly, though, because we are not fair judges of another man’s heart.
        Aside from that, I think we must have hearts that are more eager to “hold on” than to “let go” – Paul/Barnabas/John Mark did a LOT of talking before they split in two different directions. This is an example of what you’re asking, but this does not address real vs fake Christians. These guys were all truly serious followers of Christ. And this was not an easy decision for them.
        And, if we are to take things into the realm of Church discipline and accountability, excommunication is a very harsh and condemning act. Yes, there’s place for it in the life of the Church, but it stands as a last resort. And it stands in the context of dealing with an unrepentant “believer” after MUCH has been done to help this person come to truth.
        Yes, there’s precedent, but this precedent is encapsulated by a number of prior steps to hold things together. The bigger picture, I would still maintain, is that we are to be joined together in Kingdom work. I don’t think a church split, “for the sake of sinners,” is a justifiable suffering. I don’t see that as God’s way for the Body of Christ.

        1. ” If we face that suffering for the sake of sinners, we surely share in the suffering of Christ.”
          Its not a matter of being justifiable, but of reality. There is a cost to reaching sinners. Sometimes the cost is that we lose friends who claim to be on the same team. The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.

          1. > “The question is about our willingness to reach them even when our so-called Christian friends oppose it.”
            Oh! Yes, I’m willing and ready!

            ~JOSh-X

  21. Wow! Great question for sure. Of course it all comes back to our hearts…are we willing to follow Christ at all costs…but it also comes down to our faith in action as James talks about. So, I say the answer is “yes.” Yes, it may cost us relationships with true believers, it may cost us relationships with blood relatives, it amy cost us relationships w/ non-believers.
    I had an experience probably similar to yours Rich. When I chose to be in ministry, all the “christian” friends I had from highschool and the beginning of college bailed on me. Later on they told me they wanted to “spare me” from their bad influence, but it certainly cost me something to follow after Jesus and be obedient to his calling in my life.

    Even now as I’m working part time for my church there are people who come in get involved and then are turned off by our “style” and leave. It costs my church something to be obedient to the vision God has given us.

    I really love this discussion though. It’s kind of scary/awesome to think about what God could possibly ask us to sacrifice in order to follow him. And I really love the picture that Jesus is a friend of sinners. Whatdoes that look like in our own lives? Is that simply being there for sinners when they need a shoulder to cry on? Is it going to your local pub/bar having a drink and talking to people about life and how God fits in to theirs?

    Living out the love of Christ has no limit and in my opinion has no example other than we are to live it wherever we find ourselves at the moment.

  22. Wow! Great question for sure. Of course it all comes back to our hearts…are we willing to follow Christ at all costs…but it also comes down to our faith in action as James talks about. So, I say the answer is “yes.” Yes, it may cost us relationships with true believers, it may cost us relationships with blood relatives, it amy cost us relationships w/ non-believers.
    I had an experience probably similar to yours Rich. When I chose to be in ministry, all the “christian” friends I had from highschool and the beginning of college bailed on me. Later on they told me they wanted to “spare me” from their bad influence, but it certainly cost me something to follow after Jesus and be obedient to his calling in my life.

    Even now as I’m working part time for my church there are people who come in get involved and then are turned off by our “style” and leave. It costs my church something to be obedient to the vision God has given us.

    I really love this discussion though. It’s kind of scary/awesome to think about what God could possibly ask us to sacrifice in order to follow him. And I really love the picture that Jesus is a friend of sinners. Whatdoes that look like in our own lives? Is that simply being there for sinners when they need a shoulder to cry on? Is it going to your local pub/bar having a drink and talking to people about life and how God fits in to theirs?

    Living out the love of Christ has no limit and in my opinion has no example other than we are to live it wherever we find ourselves at the moment.

  23. Wow! Great question for sure. Of course it all comes back to our hearts…are we willing to follow Christ at all costs…but it also comes down to our faith in action as James talks about. So, I say the answer is “yes.” Yes, it may cost us relationships with true believers, it may cost us relationships with blood relatives, it amy cost us relationships w/ non-believers.
    I had an experience probably similar to yours Rich. When I chose to be in ministry, all the “christian” friends I had from highschool and the beginning of college bailed on me. Later on they told me they wanted to “spare me” from their bad influence, but it certainly cost me something to follow after Jesus and be obedient to his calling in my life.

    Even now as I’m working part time for my church there are people who come in get involved and then are turned off by our “style” and leave. It costs my church something to be obedient to the vision God has given us.

    I really love this discussion though. It’s kind of scary/awesome to think about what God could possibly ask us to sacrifice in order to follow him. And I really love the picture that Jesus is a friend of sinners. Whatdoes that look like in our own lives? Is that simply being there for sinners when they need a shoulder to cry on? Is it going to your local pub/bar having a drink and talking to people about life and how God fits in to theirs?

    Living out the love of Christ has no limit and in my opinion has no example other than we are to live it wherever we find ourselves at the moment.

  24. Wow! Great question for sure. Of course it all comes back to our hearts…are we willing to follow Christ at all costs…but it also comes down to our faith in action as James talks about. So, I say the answer is “yes.” Yes, it may cost us relationships with true believers, it may cost us relationships with blood relatives, it amy cost us relationships w/ non-believers.
    I had an experience probably similar to yours Rich. When I chose to be in ministry, all the “christian” friends I had from highschool and the beginning of college bailed on me. Later on they told me they wanted to “spare me” from their bad influence, but it certainly cost me something to follow after Jesus and be obedient to his calling in my life.

    Even now as I’m working part time for my church there are people who come in get involved and then are turned off by our “style” and leave. It costs my church something to be obedient to the vision God has given us.

    I really love this discussion though. It’s kind of scary/awesome to think about what God could possibly ask us to sacrifice in order to follow him. And I really love the picture that Jesus is a friend of sinners. Whatdoes that look like in our own lives? Is that simply being there for sinners when they need a shoulder to cry on? Is it going to your local pub/bar having a drink and talking to people about life and how God fits in to theirs?

    Living out the love of Christ has no limit and in my opinion has no example other than we are to live it wherever we find ourselves at the moment.

  25. I think it is a pretty obvious answer, yet I have a hard time thinking about how you’re flushing it out. You’re going to talk about it at church. Fundamentally Jesus is saying be around people who don’t go to church, and yet we’re going to talk about this at church. That has a bit of a disconnect for me. I get it, and I work at a church…but it is still somewhat of a disconnect for me.

    1. Not sure about what you mean by disconnect. We are not talking here about church as in our meetings as much as we are what we do with neighbors, the guy who changes our oil or people in general. Being a professional Christian myself, I know that context is everything.
      The biggest disconnect for me is this: Often times we in the church use our version of fellowship to excuse our lack of loving our sinful neighbor. If reaching a sinner means it strains relationships, then its a price that will be paid. We have to count that possible cost. The hope is that we are all on the same team, but reality is it will not always be so.

  26. I think it is a pretty obvious answer, yet I have a hard time thinking about how you’re flushing it out. You’re going to talk about it at church. Fundamentally Jesus is saying be around people who don’t go to church, and yet we’re going to talk about this at church. That has a bit of a disconnect for me. I get it, and I work at a church…but it is still somewhat of a disconnect for me.

    1. Not sure about what you mean by disconnect. We are not talking here about church as in our meetings as much as we are what we do with neighbors, the guy who changes our oil or people in general. Being a professional Christian myself, I know that context is everything.
      The biggest disconnect for me is this: Often times we in the church use our version of fellowship to excuse our lack of loving our sinful neighbor. If reaching a sinner means it strains relationships, then its a price that will be paid. We have to count that possible cost. The hope is that we are all on the same team, but reality is it will not always be so.

  27. I think it is a pretty obvious answer, yet I have a hard time thinking about how you’re flushing it out. You’re going to talk about it at church. Fundamentally Jesus is saying be around people who don’t go to church, and yet we’re going to talk about this at church. That has a bit of a disconnect for me. I get it, and I work at a church…but it is still somewhat of a disconnect for me.

    1. Not sure about what you mean by disconnect. We are not talking here about church as in our meetings as much as we are what we do with neighbors, the guy who changes our oil or people in general. Being a professional Christian myself, I know that context is everything.
      The biggest disconnect for me is this: Often times we in the church use our version of fellowship to excuse our lack of loving our sinful neighbor. If reaching a sinner means it strains relationships, then its a price that will be paid. We have to count that possible cost. The hope is that we are all on the same team, but reality is it will not always be so.

  28. I think it is a pretty obvious answer, yet I have a hard time thinking about how you’re flushing it out. You’re going to talk about it at church. Fundamentally Jesus is saying be around people who don’t go to church, and yet we’re going to talk about this at church. That has a bit of a disconnect for me. I get it, and I work at a church…but it is still somewhat of a disconnect for me.

    1. Not sure about what you mean by disconnect. We are not talking here about church as in our meetings as much as we are what we do with neighbors, the guy who changes our oil or people in general. Being a professional Christian myself, I know that context is everything.
      The biggest disconnect for me is this: Often times we in the church use our version of fellowship to excuse our lack of loving our sinful neighbor. If reaching a sinner means it strains relationships, then its a price that will be paid. We have to count that possible cost. The hope is that we are all on the same team, but reality is it will not always be so.

  29. I get you Rich.
    Couple things that come to mind:

    Jesus did most of his ministry with his disciples. So even as he was around sinners he was with fellow believers.

    Church is comprised generally of about 95% believers. My point is that many churches speak to the need of reaching sinners but they remain comfortable in their bubble as you said. If a church isn’t royally pissing Christians off then it isn’t doing its job. We need churches to challenge people to do this. I hope you guys can do that when you talk about this.

    1. My church, and most would not be as high as that! 😉 I am pretty sure of that.
      Yes, if we did this TOGETHER that would be the key. The only time Jesus was truly alone with in the desert and to be with the Father. I believe in community, but not in making a Christian ghetto.

  30. I get you Rich.
    Couple things that come to mind:

    Jesus did most of his ministry with his disciples. So even as he was around sinners he was with fellow believers.

    Church is comprised generally of about 95% believers. My point is that many churches speak to the need of reaching sinners but they remain comfortable in their bubble as you said. If a church isn’t royally pissing Christians off then it isn’t doing its job. We need churches to challenge people to do this. I hope you guys can do that when you talk about this.

    1. My church, and most would not be as high as that! 😉 I am pretty sure of that.
      Yes, if we did this TOGETHER that would be the key. The only time Jesus was truly alone with in the desert and to be with the Father. I believe in community, but not in making a Christian ghetto.

  31. I get you Rich.
    Couple things that come to mind:

    Jesus did most of his ministry with his disciples. So even as he was around sinners he was with fellow believers.

    Church is comprised generally of about 95% believers. My point is that many churches speak to the need of reaching sinners but they remain comfortable in their bubble as you said. If a church isn’t royally pissing Christians off then it isn’t doing its job. We need churches to challenge people to do this. I hope you guys can do that when you talk about this.

    1. My church, and most would not be as high as that! 😉 I am pretty sure of that.
      Yes, if we did this TOGETHER that would be the key. The only time Jesus was truly alone with in the desert and to be with the Father. I believe in community, but not in making a Christian ghetto.

  32. I get you Rich.
    Couple things that come to mind:

    Jesus did most of his ministry with his disciples. So even as he was around sinners he was with fellow believers.

    Church is comprised generally of about 95% believers. My point is that many churches speak to the need of reaching sinners but they remain comfortable in their bubble as you said. If a church isn’t royally pissing Christians off then it isn’t doing its job. We need churches to challenge people to do this. I hope you guys can do that when you talk about this.

    1. My church, and most would not be as high as that! 😉 I am pretty sure of that.
      Yes, if we did this TOGETHER that would be the key. The only time Jesus was truly alone with in the desert and to be with the Father. I believe in community, but not in making a Christian ghetto.

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