Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Another Story for My Book

Separation 101 (-)

We had a couple of friends at church that were both single guys and were a part of our life when we got married. Tim and Steve. Tim really loved Steve and clung to him; you could say they were best friends.

There was some trouble at our church over the issue of music at that time. Some people were getting upset that the music seemed to be “changing” at the church. They felt that it was wrong to introduce drums and electric guitar into the service, among other complaints. This story is not about that, however. (That may be for another discussion.)

Because of this “turmoil,” both of these young men left the church. We did not. We saw them both from time to time, but as the months went on, less and less. Steve moved to another end of town and Tim stayed behind. Steve got married. Tim did not. Steve began going to a Reformed-thinking church and called us one day to tell us that he had just now gotten saved. He had not made Jesus the Lord of his life previously so he could not have been saved; this was the conclusion he had come to when attending this new church. (That idea may also be for another discussion.)

During this same period of time, Tim became less and less interested in finding another church. Ever since he left our church, it just never seemed to click with him anywhere else. He was really going downhill socially. He became almost hermit-like. He had several computers in his apartment and I do believe he was up to no good in there, but I am not sure exactly what was going on. Well, whatever it was, his best friend Steve finally decided that the right thing to do was to stop having anything to do with Tim. Tim was disobeying the Lord in his morals and life, so Steve felt he had to separate from the brother.

This totally crushed Tim! Tim had no other friends. He was not close to his own family and Steve’s family had become like family to him. Steve’s kids were one of the few joys for Tim. Seeing this young family was the highlight of this otherwise reclusive man’s life. Now he was going to lose that connection.

The two talked it over. Steve explained that it was important to obey the Word of God in regards to fellowshipping with a disobedient brother. You were supposed to have nothing to do with them.

Tim asked Steve if this meant that it was only right to associate with Christians; what about usaved people and reaching out to them? After Steve's answer...

Tim declared about himself that he was not really a brother. He then claimed that he really wasn’t saved, but that he was insincere about having been a believer.

Steve then was free to continue his friendship with Tim. Tim was happy.

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20 Comments:

  • That is an instructive story.

    When we talk about separation, we are talking about real life decisions that affect others.

    By Blogger Celestial Fundie, at 10/07/2008 10:13 AM  

  • Wow. I hope this story sticks in my mind. Thanks, Rose.

    By Blogger Missy, at 10/07/2008 10:32 AM  

  • Matthew,
    Indeed. Shoe leather and practical ramifications.

    Missy,
    It is one of those stories that, when I remember it, really gets me to htinking.

    This is a true story.

    As I talked it over with John this morning I found it difficult to put my thoughts into words. It seemed so brutal what Steve was attempting to do. The solution that Tim came up with to keep his friend seemed so artificial as well. I wondered about the right way to handle this. What is the right way to deal with this kind of thing, even as it played out? Steve obviously thought he figured out the right way to handle it. Then Tim pulled the rug out. Could Steve have then "called Tim's bluff"? IOW, what if Steve said "You are too! saved." I think the idea that Tim was not saved actually worked out well in Steve's mind because of his new ideas about salvation - Tim was not producing the fruit of having submitted to Christ's Lordship.

    At the end of the day, I can't help but wonder how this all washed in Tim's mind. If he is unsaved, what must he think of this all? By declaring he was actually "on the ohter side" he was then more welcome than if he were actually a brother in Christ.

    I really don't know what the answer is, but the way this happened just seemed "artificial" to me. If that is the right word.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 11:01 AM  

  • I think the issue at hand here is the correct definition of "fellowship". Some would incorrectly assume that any form of communication, association or being around someone is fellowship.

    True koinonia is a spiritual fellowship that transcends all of the above.

    By Anonymous GordonCloud, at 10/07/2008 1:58 PM  

  • That is one of the bizarrest stories I have heard lately.. but it did remind me about how religion can often trump relationships.

    By Blogger Kansas Bob, at 10/07/2008 2:09 PM  

  • Please tell me this is just a joke. How horribly sad if true.

    By Blogger Jim, at 10/07/2008 2:53 PM  

  • Gordon,
    That is a helpful thought. There is a difference between just hanging out with someone and 'koinonia.' If you are proposing what I think you are, then that would solve the "artificial" aspect of this that really bugged me.

    Let's run with the assumption for a minute that Tim was not saved. Tim stopped going to church. He was not comfortable with koinonia. That makes sense. But he was comfortable with Steve's friendship. Steve also was comfortable being Tim's friend, but he felt that he must depart from Tim's friendship in order to be faithful to God. That is the part that I would say wasn't 'natural.' ("Natural" in the sense of the expected outworking of something, all things considered). He is Tim's friend. IOW, it seems that with pretenders, it will naturally happen that they will leave the koinonia, because they are not OF us. My thoughts... still developing.

    On the other hand, if we run with the assumption that Tim was saved, but just in rebellion, then the lack of koinonia with the ecclessia would bother him eventually and cause him to repent, if we think of what the NT tells us is supposed to be he result of disfellowshipping: restoration. Funny thing is, though, Tim was not being denied corporate koinonia; he left that of his own accord. But he didn't want to be denied friendship.

    Either way, whether the the de-friending him would have caused him to repent, I suppose we will never know.

    Thanks for adding your thoughts and feel free to add more.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 7:02 PM  

  • Bob,
    Agreed. When it happened, it was one of those jaw dropping moments. The word "absurd" comes to mind, but I am not sure if that is the right word.

    Jim,
    Sadly, it is a true story. We felt so badly for Tim and tried to reach out to him a couple of times, but it didn't work out. We went to his door one time and he wouldn't answer but when we drove away, we saw him standing at the back of his living room looking out the window at us. We should make a new attempt even though it has been years. You get busy having young kids. (You know this better than me!)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 7:08 PM  

  • Not such an uplifting or inspiring story, I'm afraid, but it stands out in my mind as one of those "Christians are weird" stories.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 7:09 PM  

  • BTW, I changed the names... just because I think it would have been unseemly not to do so.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/07/2008 7:09 PM  

  • Rose, I think what you are saying is consistent with I John, which gives a very detailed description of koinonia.

    By Anonymous GordonCloud, at 10/08/2008 12:16 AM  

  • It all depends on how we define "church", "believer" and "fellowship".

    In this case, Steve IS the Church.

    And Tim IS a believer: you can't un-born a born again believer. No one can reverse a birth, much less the one who experiences the new birth.

    Tim needs to be disciplined, with the aim of causing his repentance AND restoration (Matt 18:18, 1 Cor 5:5, 2 Cor 2:7-16).

    It seems that Tim has a manipulative trait, twisting Scripture AND situations. It's sad that people learn, and apply doctrine, selectively, to achieve their own selfish ends.

    Hope this helped.

    By Blogger anton, at 10/08/2008 6:15 AM  

  • Oops! Hi Rose!

    The story sure knocked us off keel! Where's our manners!

    ;^)

    Blessings.

    By Blogger anton, at 10/08/2008 6:17 AM  

  • Gordon,
    Thank you! It is nice to know that what I say is consistent with the Bible. That is my goal in all that I say regarding any of these matters.
    God bless.

    Anton,
    Hello! I agree that one can't be saved and then become unsaved. The thing is, Tim said that he was never saved. He said that about himself. I tend to take people at their word. This was a really weird case where he might have said it just to retain a friendship with a believer. That is what makes it an odd case. But I don't know if that necessarily means that it wasn't true.

    Anyways, thanks for your thoughts. Pray for Tim, that whatever the case, he will be brought into fellowship with the Lord somehow.

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/08/2008 8:58 AM  

  • Rose,

    Can we have friendships in which we do not have "koinonia" fellowship; that is: can we have non-Christian friends amd remain faithful to God's Word?

    By Blogger Joe, at 10/08/2008 10:48 AM  

  • Let's try that again, heehee

    Hi Joe,
    I believe so. When I was first saved, my friends just fell off - we did not have anything in common anymore so I didn't really have to grapple with that issue. Since then I have come to think that yes, we can have non-Christian friends and still be faithful to God's Word. I think naturally we won't be as close to them. I guess I would also be curious to see how people define the difference between "friends" and "aquaintances" as well. That would help define what we are talking about.

    Joe, are you convinced otherwise? I would love to hear your thoughts and I promise not to 'debate' it much. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/08/2008 10:59 AM  

  • And in the end, both guys got what they wanted from each other. Personally, I wouldn't have tried to end the friendship with Tim. Seems that friendship was one more of "family" in once sense of the word.

    How ya doin' there Rose? Fine I hope!

    By Blogger Gojira, at 10/08/2008 4:32 PM  

  • Hello Gojira!!
    So good to see you. How are yo doing? Every time I see your name my heart goes out to you, Doug, and hopes that yours wasn't hurt too bad by whatever it was you were going through. I pray for you.

    I am fine, even though I am very busy as of late. I had a baby almost two years ago - I think after you left blogging - and he is really a handful, besides working at home and the other three kids. But I am fine.

    Thanks for stopping by. :~)

    God is good.

    Oh, and I agree - I wouldn't have tried to end the frinedship either - it seemed almost cruel at the time. What Gordon said was helpful.


    Joe still doesn't want to weigh in. ;~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/11/2008 11:54 AM  

  • Rose, please excuse the length… but having been on the ‘receiving end’ of “you aren’t righteous enough to be around me” thinking at one period in my life, I need to say this.
    It never spurred me on to wanting to be a better Christian, it simply confirmed how much nicer my unsaved friends were. They accepted me as I was and wanted to have a relationship with me.
    It was the ‘salt and light’ friends who stayed through thick and thin that caused me to crave what they had - a deeper relationship with God.
    Certainly there may be a place to withdraw shared communion or not allow those in blatant sin to be church members or serve in a leadership capacity. But, as friends? Only when we are being drawn down to their level should we totally withdraw (in which case we have a deeper problem than simply association).

    By Blogger ewe cho, at 10/11/2008 1:23 PM  

  • Eunice,
    Welcome! Thank you for your thoughts! I agree - I think this would have been something that would have been a lost opportunity for Steve to be that salt and light. Thank you so much for sharing a real life experience in your comment. :~)

    By Blogger Rose~, at 10/11/2008 3:37 PM  

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