You Have Friends in Weird Places
Bible Reading: John 15:12-16
*Now you are my friends. . . . You didn’t choose me. I chose you. John 15:15-16*
Wherever Evelyn looked, she saw two kinds of kids. There was a tiny, tight, popular bunch. And then there was everyone else, a pathetic pool of losers.
Evelyn knew she wanted to be part of the in crowd-and to avoid ever being seen with the out crowd. She was afraid that some of the nerds’ nerdiness might rub off on her. Or that she could catch whatever disease made nerds nerdy. Or that someone might snap a photo of her hanging out with a herd of nerds. Evelyn made it her job in life to stay clear of all nerds … and dweebs … and geeks… and dorks … and make sure nothing ever ruined her reputation for perfect coolness.
It would be marvelous if Christians never thought about the consequences of making friends with people whom others see as rejects. But often we worry that people will snub us if we make friends with people that the crowd snubs. Being seen with the “wrong” people might be one of your biggest fears.
Believe it or not, Jesus battled huge pressure to hang out with the in crowd. As a Jewish teacher, he was only supposed to be seen with other teachers and really religious people.
A group called the Pharisees made up especially tough rules about the right crowd and the wrong crowd to hang with. But Jesus smashed their code. He ate with tax collectors. He touched lepers. He talked to a Samaritan woman—a double no-no, because she was both a foreigner and a woman. He got to know all sorts of people from the wrong crowd. As a result, Jesus was called “a friend of the worst sort of sinners” (Luke 7:34).
But Jesus let the Pharisees’ disrespect slide off of him. In the end, it turned out that many of his most loyal friends came from the wrong crowd. Matthew, a despised tax collector, was among his twelve disciples. And Mary Magdalene, a woman from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons, was one of the few who didn’t desert him through the crucifixion.
Loving everyone like God commands means we open our hearts to people who might be disliked by the crowd. It means befriending others in the way Jesus befriended us. After all, Jesus chose us as his friends-and we’re really not perfect, are we?
TALK: What will it cost you to be like Jesus by making friends outside your current group? What are the possible rewards—for you and for others?
PRAY: Ask God to help you befriend someone who needs it, no matter what group he or she belongs to.
ACT: Schedule a time to get together with someone you usually avoid.