FRIENDS: DO THEY LEAD YOU TO CHRIST?

friends

It is He, Jesus Christ, the true life, who gives hope and purpose to our
earthly existence, opens our minds and hearts to the goodness and beauty
around us, to solidarity and friendship with our fellow human beings, to
intimate communion with God Himself, in a love that goes beyond all limits
of time and space, to unassailable happiness.

Remember when we talked about how good friendships can lead you to Christ?
Today I want to talk about the flip side of that. What about friendships
that lead you away from Christ? Can that happen?

As Christians, it’s easy to want to be a good influence. We feel like we
have something really great (eternal life, for starters) and we want to
share it with other people, especially the people we care about. And that’s
a good thing. We weren’t put here to “hide our light under a bushel
basket,” as Scripture says. We were meant to shine our light up on a hill,
where people can see it. We’re supposed to be examples of good Christians
and to lead people to Christ.

And sometimes it really works. I’m sure that, as a result of knowing you,
some people around you have re-evaluated their lives. I’m sure some have
turned away from sin. Some know Christ better or pray more, because of you.

But sometimes it can work the other way. Sometimes friends, especially
boyfriends or girlfriends, can lead us away from Christ while we’re trying
to lead them toward Christ. It’s usually not a really blatant thing. You
know you’re a strong Christian and you know you’re not going to stop
believing in Christ. They couldn’t convince you He doesn’t exist or that He
doesn’t love you.

But ask yourself this — how does this relationship affect the practice of
your faith? Have you made this person the center of your life, instead of
God? Do you pray less regularly because of this relationship? Do you “deny
Christ” around this person or this person’s friends, in order to gain
acceptance?

Most importantly, does this relationship cause you to sin? There are a lot
of ways a friendship can lead you to sin. Does this person gossip? Does
this group abuse drugs or alcohol? Do they destroy people’s property?
One of the most common, and most serious, ways that a relationship can lead
us away from Christ is when a dating relationship leads to sexual sin. When
you’re attracted to someone, it’s natural to want to bring them closer to
Christ. But when you’re sexually attracted to them and they don’t share
your standards for sexual purity, you’ve entered a very dangerous
situation. When the hormones get flowing, logic tends to go out the window.
If you’re with someone who doesn’t believe in saving sex for marriage or
who doesn’t at least fully respect your commitment to it, they have no
reason not to want to go further. And, when resistance is down, you’re
pretty likely to follow.

A lot of Christians get into this situation. Sexual sin happens in a
relationship over and over, and they find it difficult or impossible to
stop it. Either the other person just isn’t as committed to chastity as
they are, or habits are formed, or whatever. But they rationalize staying
in the relationship, saying, “But because of me, he’s closer to Christ. He
goes to Mass sometimes.”

But at what price? Repeated mortal sin is putting your soul in serious
danger, as well as the soul of the person you’re with. That’s not the way
to lead anyone to Christ. It’s pretty much a guarantee that your
relationship won’t be infused with grace. You’re going to struggle,
emotionally and spiritually. It will probably keep your friend from finding
Christ. Remember, faith is a grace job, not a logic job. And sin denies us,
and them, that grace. And it will drive you away from Him, and take away
your peace of soul, in process.

If you’re in a relationship that’s leading you to serious sin, it’s
important that you realize that the sin has to stop. You’re risking your
immortal soul, as well as your friend’s. Eternity is resting on this. The
stakes could not possibly be higher. You have to look at what’s going on
and take serious action to stop it. That means, if it’s sexual sin, never
being alone together, or staying out of the house or car or wherever
there’s a problem. You need strict rules and you need to follow them. Get
help if you need it.

A lot of people in this situation think, “I’ll just keep going to
confession every time it happens and I’ll be fine.” Wrong. Think about it.
Repenting says to God, “I’m sorry this happened and I’m going to try really
hard to make sure it never happens again.” That’s what it means to be
sorry. That’s the condition of your forgiveness. You need to be committed
to serious change.

Just going back to the same old habits isn’t going to cut it. If you do
that, you know it’s going to happen again. You can’t just say, “I’ll go
back into that tempting situation/being in a dark room alone/making out in
the car/whatever. Only this time I’ll be stronger.” No, you won’t. Your
hormones aren’t made that way. And going into a situation where you’re
pretty sure you’re going to sin is a sin in itself. That’s right. You can
sin before you’ve even started sinning, just by going back into a situation
where you’ve repeatedly lost control and having no guarantee this time,
besides “I’ll try really hard.” Confessing means committing to avoiding the
situation.

Sure you may fall again. But that means going back to confession and
backing up further. It means making even stricter rules next time.
And, if that doesn’t work — soon — you need to end the relationship.
Period. I know that may sound harsh, but think about it. Who is the god of
your life? God? If so, what’s worth jeopardizing your relationship with
Him? Who could be so important that you’d risk losing Him? Where will you
be without Him?

Pope John Paul II says that it’s God who “opens our hearts to friendship.”
If a friendship is marred by persistent, serious sin, real love is not in
action. You can say “I love you,” but you’re not loving and God is not
there.

Don’t you want Him around? Don’t you want Him in your relationships? I
guarantee, they won’t work right any other way.

Ref# Mary Beth Bonacci
Ref# Arlington Catholic Herald

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