Welcome to Tough Question Monday, where we tackle some of the difficult questions that our kids ask. If you have a question you’d like to see answered in this space, leave a comment or post on the Facebook page.
As my younger daughter was getting ready for bed last night, she asked me, "Is it OK to be friends with Jewish people?"
"Whoa, where did that come from," I thought. I was pretty sure we've always taught our daughters to be friends to everyone, regardless of race, color or creed.
"Of course it is. Why?" I asked.
"One of my friends is Jewish," she said.
As we dove into the heart of the issue, I finally realized that my daughter was confused about the admonition in 2 Corinthians 6:14, which says "Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?"
God wants us to be friends with anyone, regardless of their beliefs. Jesus hung out with lots of people who didn't believe what He had to say. He spent time with people who were actively looking for reasons to kill Him. He didn't just spend time with them. He loved them and shared His teaching with them. He ate with tax collectors. He talked to prostitutes. He walked among the lepers. Jesus didn't discriminate about who He spent time with because Jesus came for everyone.
My daughter and I talked about what being "unequally yoked" really means. We most often hear about it in terms of marriage -- not marrying someone who doesn't share your beliefs. And that's an important point. When both people in a marriage aren't following Christ, it's hard to move in the same direction as a couple. It's hard to share about your faith if your spouse doesn't believe.
But that verse does also apply to friendships. While God doesn't want us to be unfriendly to anyone, He does want us to choose our closest friends wisely. As our kids are getting older, we want them to choose their inner circle of friends well. Not being unequally yoked in friendship means that the people we choose to ask for advice, the people we choose to let have heavy influence in our lives should be followers of Jesus because it's important that we get wise counsel from people who have the same source of wisdom that we do. Otherwise, we might get counsel that seems wise by the standards of the world but contradicts God's wisdom.
While Jesus spent time with people who didn't believe what He had to say, His closest friends were all followers of Him. They believed in Him. They gave up everything to follow Him. His disciples were His closest friends, and even though they sometimes offered bad advice, they're hearts were always seeking after Jesus.
So, as your kids choose their friends, be sure to have a conversation about friendships and how they affect us. Be sure your kids know it's OK to be friends with people who believe and think differently than they do, but be sure they know they want their closest friends, the ones they seek advice from, to also be following Jesus.