I have been friends with the men in the above picture for over 35 years. That states, first of all, that I'm old and secondly, that they are all great guys. It takes a lot to stay friends for that long. It takes effort. In the busyness and transitions of life (moving, having children, etc.), we need to be intentional in reaching out and staying in touch.
Do you call your friends without agenda? Do you have a sit down just to get together and talk? Real talk, not just weather and sports. LIFE.
I spoke to our church recently about friendship. I've learned quite a bit over the years-good and bad. I've disappointed friends and have been disappointed by friends. But I've learned that I need them. They encourage me and keep me humble as well. They inspire me and push me to do things I would've never tried.
In my last sermon, I spoke about just how important it is to be surrounded with friends who want great things for you, friends who have your best interests in mind and friends who will go the extra mile in loving you. I spoke of the 2AM friend, one you can call anytime for help. I also mentioned the "help you move" friend. Both of these are different level friends. Both of these will help you so much along the way. We were not meant to do this alone. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 "Two are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble."
But how are they influencing you and how are you influencing them? I truly believe we should use caution regarding the people we allow into our lives. If we are leaving these friends depressed or in regret of what we did, maybe it's time we address this. For those of us that call ourselves Christians we are suppose to be living with the standards of God's Word (the Bible). If every time we get together with a friend outside of our faith we are choosing to live a different lifestyle than the one God chose for us, then it's time to either "love from afar" or to start to be the influencer in the relationship. Worse, if the person you are hanging out with is a Christian and both of your behavior is not what God would have you do, then it's time to evaluate what you're doing and the possible damage to those around you.
I say it all the time, once you "announce" the fact that you are a Christian, some of your "audience" or your non-Christian friends may start looking at you to see what, if anything, changes. You may just be the only example of Jesus Christ they ever see. How alarming is this if when we become a Christian our friends do not see a change in us?!?
Those friends around you that are not Christians are not to be put to the same standard. They never proclaimed Christ as their Savior so we have no right to judge them. But, if we "Christians" behave in a way that is not honoring to God, we certainly deserve to be questioned.
Good friends are hard to find. I've been blessed with some great ones along the way. It takes some walls to come down to allow others in. But choosing those we let in is the key to your future - Your Friends Determine Your Future - choose wisely.