When we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, we begin a new journey in life. The Bible says that we are “born again” spiritually and that we are a “new creation,” and that the old things have passed away. The beginning steps of this journey are important if we are to grow in our new relationship with God and learn how to stay on the path He has set for us.
Along with reading our Bible and praying regularly, attending a local church and telling others about Jesus, an important component to healthy spiritual growth is spending time with friends who are believers. From our childhood years to adulthood, our friends influence what we think and what we believe. The Bible states the same principle: “The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray” (Proverbs 12:26).
Spending time with a Christian friend allows a new believer to gain a godly perspective on life issues, as well as providing a source of accountability in areas where we struggle. God often uses good friends who share a relationship with Christ and are led by the Holy Spirit to encourage and to challenge us to take the next step of growth in our walk with the Lord. The Bible says “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend” (Proverbs 27:17).
As soon as a child is old enough to have friends, his parents start to worry about what type of friends he has. Why? Because they know that the lifestyle and attitudes of their child’s friends will greatly influence him. As a believer, the friends you choose can greatly affect the course of your life; it even determines your success: “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20).
The Bible draws a powerful word picture of relationships when it says, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14). Picture two oxen yoked together with the goal of plowing a field: If one goes one way, the other must go with it. Because the same is true with any close relationship, the follower of Jesus must be bonded with those who are walking toward life and godliness.
This does not mean we must abandon our relationships with non-believers. God has called each of us to be salt and light and to live publicly in a way that honors God. Jesus was called a “friend of sinners” because He came to seek and save the lost, and He spent time with them. We too must seek every opportunity the Lord puts before us to share the Good News of eternal life in Jesus Christ. We won’t have those opportunities if we only surround ourselves with believers who already agree with us.
Though Jesus associated with sinful people, He selected His inner circle of friends carefully, including only those who were committed to Him. A big reason to be involved in a local church is to find others who will support you in your walk with God. In belonging to a church, you will find others to walk with you in fulfilling God’s purposes in your life: to love God, to love others, and to build the kingdom of Heaven.
“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.” (Psalm 1:1).
“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
“Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God” (2 Corinthians 6:14-16).