Anonymous asked: I have a friend of mine who’s been trying to catch up with me lately. He’s a good fellow, but he keeps on crossing the boundaries I have set — which basically is to stop annoying me with this whole “wrath of God” bit. I told my buddy if he keeps on being a drag I’ll drop him as a friend. He was slightly shocked by it.
I’ve prayed about it, and I don’t like what God is saying. He tells me to be patient with him. Maybe this is a chance for him to grow. Maybe this is a chance for me to grow, too. I don’t know. My buddy’s concern is that I’m being a lone ranger. [edited for length]
Unka Glen answered: There will come a time in any friendship where you’ll need to make the following comment: “I love you, and I appreciate your passion on this issue, but you are so, SO wrong about it, and I need you to stop talking about it, because it makes me sad, and not want to be around you.”
Friendship isn’t putting up with whatever nonsense comes out of someone else’s mouth, and a legit friend doesn’t try to win an argument by implying that one has the majority opinion, and that anyone else is a “lone wolf”.
As for preaching grace versus preaching wrath, you can at least be assured that the Apostle Paul is with you on that one. Paul once said that he resolved to preach nothing other than “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified”. That is to preach about the payment for our sins, the ransom for our souls, and the path to salvation. Grace, in other words.
This all boils down to a big fork in the road that we all come to in preaching the Gospel. The left hand road is to assume that people don’t know that they’re lost, and that this is why they haven’t bothered being found. The right hand road is the assumption that people know they’re lost, they just don’t believe that they can be found.
ALWAYS take the right-hand road. Always.
Consider how much sense it makes to assume that people don’t know they’re lost. How many sins did you commit, and thought that they were perfectly innocent? Oh, you TOLD yourself it was okay, but beloved, if you have to talk yourself out of the conviction, that’s proof that you felt the conviction.
If you convince yourself that it’s your job to convict people of their sin, you’ll end up preaching wrath every time. If you believe that it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict people of their sin, then you’ll be in agreement with Jesus, who said of the Holy Spirit: “When he comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8).
You preaching then might sound something like: “you and I both know that you aren’t perfect, nobody is, but there’s a way to deal with all that, and I’d like to tell you about it.”
And when it comes to your close friends, you definitely need them to preach grace into your life. You know when you’ve screwed up, but what you need is someone who can tell you how to get back on track. What you need is good quality feedback.
A trustworthy friend can even tell you when something is about to be a problem, before it becomes a major problem, particularly if you’re asking for that kind of accountability. What you’re looking to avoid is when people are too cowardly to speak up, or when they speak up about things that aren’t a problem, and never will be, because they want a measure of control.
Trust is earned when good feedback is given over time, whether that be in the form of encouragement, warning, assistance, or just being a good sounding board. You were right to confront him on uncool and unreliable behavior, and it’s right to be patient with him (even if that means holding him at arms length for awhile), after all, the good Lord has been patient with all of us for so long, so why not?