I was reading Beacon Lights of February 2017 with interest and wanted to comment or argue about two statements in “Ask Schuyler” regarding fellowship with unbelievers. First, “Therefore we cannot enjoy true friendship, which is a sharing of life,” and second, “In fact (our children) may not and cannot” (fellowship with the ungodly) in public schools.
Taking the second quotation first, I am sure Schuyler is well aware that many believing parents have no option but to send their children to public schools because they don’t have access to a Christian school and home schooling is impossible. God can and does sustain his believing children through this phase.
Real, heartfelt friendship cannot be enjoyed between an unbeliever and a believer, but I am convinced that true friendships where life impacts life can and ought to be pursued. If an unbeliever sees our lives and hears our words up close, it is akin to the unbelieving spouse being won in 1 Peter 3:1 and the light in Matthew 5. Only such a person is likely to accompany us to our church when invited. “Cold-turkey” evangelism is frequently fruitless. My wife and I find that friendships where a common interest is shared, like sport, is one of the best places to get to know people and seek to be a witness.
John Julian Kennedy
I thank Julian for his response. Indeed, I do acknowledge that for some (a minority) of believing parents in our Protestant Reformed circles, public school education is forced upon them because of the lack of suitable alternatives (good Christian schools and homeschooling). In my original article, I mentioned that “Public schools might be an option for some parents in the absence of a good Christian school and where homeschooling is impossible. (However, few Protestant Reformed parents are in that position, and we do not make rules out of exceptions).”
Julian’s second point begs the question: what is friendship/fellowship? What he and his wife do in seeking a common interest through sport with unbelievers is permissible, and in certain cases even commendable, but it is not friendship/fellowship, at least not how the Bible defines it and how I defined it in the article in Beacon Lights.
“Sharing of life” is more than sharing the volleyball court. Sharing of life is a “spiritual closeness and oneness that we enjoy with our fellow saints in the church.” Julian and his wife might, according to his testimony, share the former with their unbelieving acquaintances in sport, but they do not, cannot, and may not share the latter with unbelievers.
I want to encourage Julian, his wife, and all readers to endeavor to invite unbelievers to church. If that begins with a shared volleyball game, that is fine, as long as the antithesis is maintained.
*Julian Kennedy is a retired physician and a member of Ballymena Protestant Reformed church in Ballymena, Northern Ireland.