As this title above implicates, we intend to devote this page to a treatment of the friendship question. Quite spontaneously this carries us into the practical area of our life: our friends, those with whom we have fellowship and are familiar. It is often said a person is known by his friends, is it true or false? Of course this is true, only a superficial exploration of existing friendships will prove the point. Rural people are inclined to mingle with rural people, urban with urban; poor people generally mix with poor people, rich with rich, great with great, and small with small. Professional people are more apt to associate with professional people, laborers with laborers and business men with business men. And we could go on!
Just what does this prove? Basically these facts would indicate that friendship requires compatibility. A successful friendship demands fundamental likenesses: having similar interests and abilities, and surely of the same background and age. You see, humans must fit together to be together. At the same time, and with equal force, a continued friendship demands physical contact. You see, humans must be together to stay together. Therefore, conflict in interest and separation are not conducive to friendship, while, on the other hand, likeness and contact are nutritional ingredients to a flourishing and realistic friendship.
So it is that our friends are the tell-tales of what we really are, at least to a degree.
Although each of us is involved somehow or other in this matter, nonetheless it is chiefly a problem for young people. You, the young people, are busy building friendships. That is, you are selecting partners who become your companions and with whom you will temporarily or permanently share your life. But remember this: you are Christian young people and that means, you understand that your friendships must be able to stand in the sunlight of heaven . . God’s sight. So your associates must be godly and the economy of your associations must be godly. This applies to your choice of all friends, but more especially that “special one” with whom you will share through marriage your entire self. We are not trying to be old-fashioned now, but these things require prayer too! And God’s Word, by all means, must be our Guide, telling us: what concord hath Christ with Belial? Or what part hath he that believeth with an unbeliever?
But is this our real problem? I think not! Young people are moreover also actively engaged in securing a position or place amongst others with whom rather close contact is established. You are setting up a tent in the earth. I have in mind the occupation you choose or the trade you pursue in order to promote a physical livelihood for yourself and yours. This will bring you into the world and the Bible warns against friendship on this plane. Remember the world? Sure do! It was that stiff wind that blew into our faces when we first left the home of our parents. There it had been so cozy, but outside, all was coarse; cursing and many other features of corruption were then introduced to me. It was that strong current that tugged at me when I left the calm of the Christian School. Then I saw! Even the way parents and preacher described it, well, their description fell far short. That world, although I knew it as darkness, appeared to me as light. She had so much to offer and she beckoned to be embraced. There were the lights of Broadway scarcely resistible; the tents of wickedness appealing and enticing. These could satisfy the flesh in a moment if one is interested in that sort of thing, and we all are by nature. Yes, evil is not far from everyone of us.
Young People, watch your step! As you secure a place on this globe and put to use your God-given gifts be on your guard, for all must be done to His glory. To be a friend of Jesus is to be an enemy of the world.
The principle to follow in carrying out the above purpose is: In the world but not of the world. Yet the truly interested youth will ask: how is this principle put into practice? To be an enemy of the world, pray tell, what does it mean in my life? This is an important question. It touches the heart of a practical world-and-life view.
Two views with which we cannot agree must be rejected. First there are those who would advocate world infiltration, obviously attempting a reform in all the spheres of corruption. This is not a thought but a trend in Christendom today. But over and over again the result has not been world reform but church conform. If I were to support such thinking I would then instruct you to go into the very throes of the world, establish yourself there and let your light shine. It is true, to be sure, that wherever we are we must shine as lights. With this part of the program I have no criticism, but to deliberately establish oneself in the depths of darkness is wrong. Surely we can walk through the zoo without creeping into the cage of the tiger!
Secondly there is the view of world separation. According to this position the Christian is to remove himself, yea, even withdraw himself from all contact with the world. If I were to support this resonating, I would advise you to inhabit mountain peaks or roam on isolated islands. Appropriately, some men have labeled this action world-flight. The Holy Word calls us to world-fight, not world-flight. Paul trained the Christians at Ephesus to be soldiers, not spacemen; he told them to put on armor, not spacesuits. These things should govern our actions.
But we teach: in the world, yet not of the world! What is our position?
In the world? Yes! Not in its ugliest parts, to be sure. You have no business in places where the ugliest of evil is exposed. But in your earthly labor you will be in the world, and then in many fields: medicine, law, politics, industry, agriculture, business, office and shop. The list is by no means exhaustive. Most of you are in training now.
Of the world? No! With the world I am not associated, not intimately tied in. To the world I do not belong; I give her no support or assistance in any form in her worldly programs and endeavors, I take no active part in any manner in her unrighteousness. No, I am of those people who profess the name of God and that in truth; counted with those who walk uprightly in an evil and perverse day, having fellowship with righteousness.
In our zeal to live as those who are not of the world, we are apt to fall into another serious error, the error of isolationism. Maybe we will devote our next space to this problem.
In conclusion: why are young people so lax and loose in this matter of attachment? Most likely because they and their parents forget we are in a continuous battle with the world. We live as spectators most of the time and forget we are soldiers. This is disastrous! Let us remember to wage the constant warfare, struggling earnestly to avoid world attachment.
It is your problem young people . It is your problem since you are so young and still of little experience: your problem since the day in which you live is so evil. Be strong.