“The Kingdom is to be in the midst of your enemies. And he who will not suffer this does not want to be of the Kingdom of Christ ; he wants to be among friends, to sit among roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the devout people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing who would ever have been spared?” – Martin Luther
I will admit that my first reaction to the Luther quote was that he seemed like a pretty grumpy guy and could use to chill out a little bit.
On the other hand he’s not wrong.
I have twice in the last couple days come across the sentiment that we, as Christians, are supposed to cut the bad influences, and unprofitable people out of our lives. The people that we associate ourselves with are not to be the ones that pull us down, but the ones that lift us up. One of those statements was this:
” You have to be careful not only how you spend each day, but also with whom you spend it. To redeem your time, you may have to prune off relationships that are not adding to your life.” – Facebook Joel Osteen Ministries
It was bad enough that a quote from this particular obscenely popular author/speaker showed up in my newsfeed, but honestly the shouts of AMEN in the comments threatened to make me physically ill. That is where the Luther quote comes into play. He is speaking words of condemnation for people that are doing the very thing that Osteen is calling his electric sheep to do.
“Make sure to spend your time with the right type of people, the devout people, avoid the sinners, avoid your enemies, avoid people who might not think like you”.
We have only one true thing of value in this world, and if we spend all of our time with “the right type of people” we will never have the opportunity to share it with anyone who actually needs it. We all need encouragement, and we all need people in our lives that can challenge us to be better, hold us accountable when we stumble, but we are not called to judge the value of the people around us by what they can add to our life. The truth is that we will have plenty of people come into our lives that we will give more than we receive… if we receive anything at all. We have been called to be servants of God and ministers in this world, don’t be surprised if that sometimes demands of us to have an unprofitable relationship.
I will admit that there are sometimes emotionally or even physically abusive relationships that may need to be set aside, but my hope in those cases (and I have a couple in mind) is that after being set aside for a time the relationship can be reconciled with both people in a better place. This is not the case in most situations. In many of them, you are not being asked to prune a relationship, but to be the strong person in the relationship, the light to your friend.