Yesterday twelve of us from Wesley Chapel went to the Union Rescue Mission and fed about 50 or so people, most of whom are homeless and many who live at the mission. As I was standing out front drinking a cup of coffee, there was a woman who was walking by with two little girls. I told them there was food in the mission if they were hungry. The mother didn’t acknowledge me as she hurried past. One of the little girls looked back at me after they passed and her mother would not let go of her hand and was almost dragging her. It wasn’t until later that I realized that she was probably afraid for herself and her daughters and that’s probably why she ignored me. There were about a half dozen of us standing in front of the mission. The others were people who had eaten there. The lady didn’t know I was a pastor. She didn’t know that I was not a threat to her or her daughters. I looked just like all the other guys that hang out in front of the mission, including my sweatshirt and toboggan.
It makes me think of how sometimes we get confused about who is a friend and who is not. Young people especially get confused. If someone is attempting to get you to smoke marijuana or take Oxycontin, they are probably not your friend, even if they and you both think you are friends. A friend looks out for you. A friend wants what’s good for you. I can get in enough trouble on my own, I don’t need friends getting me in deeper.
Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” None of us are perfect and none of us are perfect friends, but we need to ask ourselves if our ‘friends’ make us better or make us worse people – and if they help us draw closer to Jesus or drive a wedge between us and Jesus. If they divide us from Jesus, they are no friend. If we divide them from Jesus, we are no friend. It’s important to know who your friends are, and how to tell if they are friend or foe.