Friends and Foes

Friends.

I may not have had many of them, or many true ones when I was in school. For me, it was easier to turn on Steam or Battle.net and face off with “friends” on TF2 and WC3. It didn’t help that my surname was Yong, and based on the alphabet my register number, my seat was always the farthest away from everyone.

Sometimes, I wondered if I could just fit in (the real world) – have that clique that I could always go to in the canteen. To never have to worry that I would have to walk around school alone. At first, I found that camaraderie in Scouting. Man… The things we did, and the time we spent together.

It felt as if I didn’t choose them, but they chose me. While that’s pretty true, and I thank God for them, we started to drift away as we grew older. Scouting is now but a faint, nostalgic memory. As I’ve started working… I’ve had my share of working with people all around… And I understand what Pastor How meant when he taught us when we were younger: some people are friendly, but they are not friends. You know, like an air stewardess? They smile at you and serve you your lunch, but they’re not going to recognise you on the streets and give you a friendly high-five.

Too many a time I’ve stuck around with the wrong group that drifted me further away from God and what I really want to do. It’s hard to describe how hard it is to want to be part of something fun and exciting. So why the need to decide to have the right friends? Why do we choose to live a good life, rather than have all the fun in the world? Why is it while I was having all the fun in the world, I felt I was walking away from God? Couldn’t I keep my values while having fun? Well…

1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”

What, evil company? My friends are not evil…

Here’s the same verse in another version (NLT), that might be easier for us to swallow.

33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”

Say what? Well the previous verse before 33 said this… “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” 

Isn’t that what most of us wish? To be happy and enjoy our lives before we die?

Not always…and it’s never easy trying to stay away from old friends that you’ve shared many memories with… But a choice has to be made between having good character and sticking around bad company. Do not be fooled, it doesn’t say good character saves the bad company. It says bad company corrupts good character. Seen my share of friends who stuck to the wrong people too. Tough choice huh…

Pastor Tan Seow How shared in a Checklist for a Great Life when dealing with complicated relationships:

Don’t cut what you can untie
– Complicated relationships are like a knot
– When you cut it you can never put it back together
– Don’t untie what you should cut
– If God says cut don’t be sentimental
– Think of  Lot’s brother and Potiphar’s wife
– A lot of times we are too sentimental and too nostalgic
– To live well you need to live wisely
– Wisdom is hearing from God and knowing which are the ones to cut
– And which are the ones to untie

After many years, I’ve learnt that what I need more than fun. What I’ve really been searching for, are not just friends, but family.

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

Friends are very different from family. There’s little obligation to stick it out with you when things go south. But when it comes to family, they’re with you through thick and thin. In Heart of God Church… I’ve found more than friends. I’ve found family.

Advertisements

Rules, but not Conditions.

Reflecting on today, I remembered what Pastor Tan Seow How shared in Heart of God Church a few weeks back during the OOPS Series. It was about the difference between having rules and conditions. Here are some parts from my notes.

First up, Rules. We need them! Children cannot be disobedient and dishonouring of parents. You can’t have your brother running around with a knife at home, right?

Without rules, family become dysfunctional, and society would descend into anarchy.
There are rules, but they are not Conditions. You may break the rules and face the consequences, but your value doesn’t change.
There are Rules in this house of God, but no Conditions.
Whether you keep the rules or break the rules… Rules do not mean God’s love is conditional. God loves us no matter what.
My thoughts
#1: I am loved
So, on some days I make really big blunders. I mess up. When I mess up, there are two ways to go – fight or flight.
Either I take myself on, to search deeper inside of me and find out what’s wrong with my character… Or I would run away, pushing the blame on someone else instead. I hope it’s obvious which is the easy way out, and which is the correct way to go.
However, no matter how big the mistake I’ve made. I’m always given a chance to change it. If I break out of my own fears and insecurities, I realised that the love for me is unconditional. No one’s giving me the weird eye, or looking down on me. I’m still loved and valued the same, mistakes made or not.
God’s love is unconditional.
#2: I must fight the right battle
Ask yourself some questions… Do you think others look down on you? Do you feel that you are judged? If you do, whose voice are you listening to? Is it the voice of truth? Or the voice of your own fears?
When I break a rule, I want to make sure I learn and grow from it. I remember that correction is not rejection. It’s never a personal attack.
You see the enemy is never another person… The enemy is not your family. The enemy is not your friend. The enemy is not your boss. And the enemy is not your leader either.
Ephesians 6:12 (NKJV)
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
You see, if you are always going against people or a person in your life, you may just be fighting the wrong battle. 
 
God, I pray I grow in my character always… To be more and more like You.