Last night a fellow missionary who pastors a Baptist Church in the area called and asked if I could come over to his house. He was meeting with a young man who a few months ago accepted Christ as his Savior and they were going through a discipleship lesson together. In the past this eighteen year old (I will call him Peter) used to enjoy fast and reckless with friends which led to trouble with the police, and eventually his car was totaled in an accident.
Since coming to the Lord Peter’s friends weren’t interested in hearing about his new found faith at all, and began encouraging him to go out with them like he used to. This is a great challenge for him since he misses his friends and wants to be with them like before, but at the same time knows they are a bad influence on him. So instead of going out partying he chose to meet with his pastor and ask for help.
Though teaching from the Word of God can help in times of temptation, there is also a need for people like Peter to have a new circle of friends who love the Lord and will encourage him to grow. This circle can include veteran missionaries who have served for many years but should have people their own age as well.
As I talked with Peter last night it occurred to me just how important having a new social circle is for new Believers or Christians who haven’t been living for the Lord. Its very easy for those who recently accepted Christ to stop growing spiritually when facing persecution or give into the temptation of Satan without a group of strong Christian friends (preferably their own age) who can encourage them to do the right thing.
In most cases we understand the importance of having a new circle of friends for the recently saved, but don’t act on that truth. We expect those new Believers to seek out Christians their age and make themselves part of our social gatherings, which is easy for some people, but most of them would struggle with this. Creating a new social circle is never easy whether you are a child moving to a new home, or an adult starting a new job. A better idea would be for us as Christians to invite those people into our activities and go out of our way to make them feel comfortable.
Inviting someone into our circle of friends is hard sometimes because it forces us to take the initiative and risk rejection. But its far better to put the pressure on ourselves than allow Satan to use their lack of friends to discourage them. I was very excited about giving Peter my cell phone number last night, and told him to text me the next time a friend called to see if he was going out with them, so that we could do something together instead. I look forward to being used by God as a source of encouragement in his life.
Because of Who He is,