“Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” (Reference: James 4:4 )
I completed my first year of high school in a public school. It was, well, not easy because most of my friends were girl friends I knew from church. The four of us stuck pretty close together in grade school, and our friends there – while not Mennonite – knew enough of Anabaptist/Mennonite that we were never challenged or “pushed”. High school was different. For some of my classes it was alright, but for some I was teased unmercifully simply because I was “different.” I dressed the same, mostly, as them; but the difference must have come through. Simply, they were the world . . . and I was not. Until now I never thought it might have been as basic as that.
And maybe part of it was me; or my “aloofness” that came from growing up in a very sheltered community/environment. For my second year of high school my mother and step-father asked if I wanted to attend the local private Mennonite high school. My peer group from church did not go there, although some of girls who were a few years old did. I was told I would be very welcome. But I decided to stay with public school. Maybe the “lure” of “friendship with the world” was too tempting.
In the five years I was in high school (I took “honors classes” which added a year) I made friends with a good many people at high school, but always held myself just a little aloof, as if there was a depth of friendship that I did not want to go to. However, for what it is worth, when it came to college I went Mennonite all the way!
Modern Anabaptists/Mennonites have come to realize that keeping the world at arm’s length is not a good way to live out God’s mission. I don’t care how you define the not “serving two masters” thing – you cannot lead a person to Christ if you are not friends with them. To become someone’s “friend” just to save their soul is obvious. More harm than good is done that way. I guess this is one place (or one more place) historic Anabaptists and I disagree.
May you beloved not hold back your friendship with other, but through befriending them may you lead them to your friend God. Selah!