Every time she calls, I’m in danger of losing my salvation. It takes a strong will and superhuman strength to hold my tongue with her. Well, that -- and massive amounts of prayer are usually in order just to carry on a conversation with her.
She’s a friend I’ve had since childhood and while we’ve drifted far apart in more ways than one, she’s still a part of my life - mainly because she doesn’t have a wide circle of friends. I’m all that she has left.
She’s what I call my “Heavenly Sandpaper Friend.” To say she “rubs me the wrong way” would be an understatement. I remain friends with her because she’s been a lifelong project.
My mission? To lead her into a relationship with Jesus Christ and to help her transform from simply being “a spiritual being,” as she likes to refer to herself, to a full-blown follower of Christ. Because she’s such a difficult person, she’s left a long trail of broken friendships in her wake. I fear that if I don’t continue our relationship and my tenacious pursuit of sharing the Gospel with her, she might never get it. As difficult as she is, as her friend, as a Christian, and as a human, I would be crushed if she were sentenced to a life in Hell.
Regardless of someone’s bad behavior, or even if their lifestyle pushes them to the head of the Hades check-in line, the thought of anyone burning in Hell for all of eternity should make all Christians uncomfortable. Some may argue that my friend doesn’t deserve to go to Heaven. I don’t disagree. But then again, I don’t deserve to go to Heaven and neither do you … or any of us, for that matter. We are ALL sinners.
“… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God …” Romans 3:23 (NIV)
Maintaining a connection with this individual has made our relationship complicated, and I’ve come to realize that our friendship is as much for my benefit as it is for her. Those “rough edges” that are being “rubbed off” of me are defining my character and making me more Christ-like. I believe the difficult people that cross our paths are frequently put there by God’s design and are His way of fine-tuning us for the future He has for us.
“If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Matthew 5:46
It’s easy to love the loveable – but loving the un-lovable? That’s where God comes in. Is there someone in your life who rubs you the wrong way? Rather than walking away from them, perhaps it’s time to let God smooth out your rough edges as He crafts you to be more like Him.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34 (NIV)