How do you respond when a friend of yours who USED to be really committed to following Jesus who you’ve sort’ve gotten out of touch with tells you she’s moving in with her boyfriend?
How do you respond when someone who claims to be currently really committed to following Jesus tells you this? What if they aren’t a very close friend of yours? What if they are?
And lastly, how do you respond when someone who has zero interest in following Jesus tells you they’re moving in with a significant other?
Thanks for your help!
These are great questions. Thanks for sending them in. These situations, being so person-relative, are exactly why it is vital for us as Christians to be in regular communion with the Holy Spirit (or as Paul says, “pray always”) so that when something like this happens, and we have to react in that moment, we can rely upon the Spirit. We can have general rules of thumb for each case because people are all the same on some level. But at the same time, even within the 3 different scenarios different people will react differently. And… we are each unique as well. Different personalities might be inclined toward different kinds of responses—some are more direct, some are more diplomatic, for example—and none is necessarily better or worse, just different. There’s no specific one-size-fits-all Christian way to respond.
I should add, that the Christian life isn’t about abiding in Christ perfectly; none of us does that. In fact, it is often more powerful when we go back and say “I was wrong.” So, when we react badly that doesn’t mean we’re horrible Christians, that if we’re doing all the right things, we’ll react perfectly and things will go swimmingly and the other person will respond as they should. No, abiding in Grace gives us humility to be imperfect; to be human; to be as we are, working with the Spirit until One Day when we are fully be-come.
So communion with the Spirit is first. But secondly we have these sorts of conversations—communion with the Church—so we can think through such things and learn from on another’s wisdom and experiences.
In each scenario I think it’s important to be honest. But that doesn’t necessarily mean saying everything you think. If you don’t have much of a relationship with that person, particularly in the first and third situations, it might be best to simply wish them well in some [honest] way. Depending on the person and what you think her or his motives might be for telling you in the first place, you might point them, kindly, to articles like this one.
All my best,