I was trying to tell a story to my new friend while we walked around the track yesterday, and I could hardly get the words out because of our quick pace.
Now, I’m no stranger to exercise. I love it actually.
The treadmill and my stationary bike are two of my most prized possessions, and they get plenty of action in my house. But, this new friend was a bit more fit than I, and her pace was a challenge to match.
Huffing and puffing, I went on with my story. I was actually glad for the fast pace, and I told my friend so. I knew it would make me stronger.
You see, I’ve walked with friends who keep a slower pace than I do, and that’s even more painful.
I remember setting out for a fun walk in the country with two friends that I hadn’t walked with yet. I was ready to conquer a few miles and a few hundred calories.
But, even though our conversation was engaging, I was disappointed to discover that the ladies moved at a snail’s pace. I kept wanting to surge ahead, to widen my stride, to scream: “Let’s get a move on, people!”
But I was polite and chatted on, trying to ignore our baby steps.
_ As I woke up this morning sore from yesterday’s pace at the track, I was thinking about my two different sets of walking friends, and how the whole concept could relate to the progress of our spiritual walk with Christ.
Now, I’m sure that most of us have friends that are, shall we say, a bit “needy” in a spiritual sense.
These are the ones who may not have cracked a Bible in a long time or maybe not ever.
Long ago, a friend introduced me to his friend Johnny* who was a bit odd. He had wild, crazy hair and talked a bit like Big Bird. My friend’s mom told me that Johnny was his “mission” friend, someone he spent time with because God directed him to do it.
Mission friends are great to have and investing in the kingdom of God is what Christians are called on to do. But you know, as believers, we also need a good handful of friends who challenge us spiritually in our faith – just like my walking buddy pushed me athletically on the track the other day.
These types of friends know their Bible and aren’t ashamed to talk about it. Their conversation often leads to spiritual topics, and sometimes they even teach us new things about God that we haven’t discovered yet.
_ Over twenty years ago, I was sitting on a log at a pork roast picnic, when a perky blonde came up to me and started chatting about life.
We hit it off as friends then and we still are to this day.
Rena showed me more about God than I could ever have learned on my own.
In fact, my friendship with her caused my own faith walk to bump up to a whole new level.
I grew muscles where I had only skinny bones!
As growing Christians, we need to cultivate friendships with other growing Christians, especially those who are a step ahead of us in their walk with Christ. And I think this principle can apply to all types of relationships.
My first real boyfriend wasn’t a Christian and that bothered me – a lot. I kept thinking that somehow I could change him and that through my influence -- he would somehow develop his own deep walk with Christ.
When I brought my concerns up to leader in ministry, he shared an analogy with me that stuck. He said that if the Christian in the relationship is standing on a table trying to pull the unbeliever up to her level, she’ll likely to be pulled down to the ground. It’s easier to fall than it is to be pulled up.
Hmmm, can’t you just see that happening? It took me a few months, but I eventually saw that the benefits of being in a relationship with a Christian outweighed those of being “yoked” with an unbeliever
All friendships are important and special aren’t they? But choosing our close circle of friends needs to be done carefully and prayerfully, I think. After all, friends help define who we are.
Who do you want to be?
Here are some Bible verses that'll help you on your journey:
Proverbs 13:20 The Message
Become wise by walking with the wise; hang out with fools and watch your life fall to pieces.
Proverbs 22:24-25 English Standard Version
Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.
Proverbs 27:17 The Message
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
*Johnny's name has been changed to protect his privacy.