Choosing What is Best
Everyone wants friends and there are few things as satisfying as the feeling of being accepted by one's peers. Likewise, few things bring pain like the feeling that one has been rejected by another person. I have always been social and outgoing in my personality - even before I came to Christ. Then, as a non-Christian, there were people who accepted me and were in my circle of friends. Often the leader in the group or the "life of the party," acceptance and approval from others was easy to find.
Yet, once I accepted Jesus Christ there was an instant break in my relationship with many. Still expecting these people to be my friends, I reached out to them, but found they had quickly become distant. Suddenly, in the midst of the excitement of my new-found life in Christ I was faced with the confusion the change had brought. My wife and I had just seen the number of our friends quickly decrease. On the road with my job, my unwillingness to go certain places anymore or do certain things often gave me no other option than to sit alone in my hotel room.
What had happened? I thought people would be happy for the change in my life. Instead, I felt that I was being treated as if I had done something wrong. Now, instead of being in the center of things, I was on the outside looking in - instead of being included, I had been excluded. It was amazing how a new lack of shared interests between people that I had known and socialized with had removed me from their list of friends.
It can be a disturbing situation to someone who has newly come to faith - expecting that everyone will be equally as excited about the change as I was. Of course some did not understand. Some thought the change meant that "fun" was now off limits to me. However, whatever the misunderstanding, their statement was clear, "You can't live for God and be friends with us."
"I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, (in Mark 10:29-31) "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields - and with them persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first." NIV
As unexpected as it was that I would lose some "friends" over becoming a Christian, was the entrance of new friends into my life. In fact, in many cases these people have become true, life-long friends. Overall, what I have gained in coming to know the Savior who was "despised and rejected by men" has given me more than the social system of this world could ever take away.