Recently a college student asked me, ‘What do I say when a friend asks me if I want to ‘get blazed’ and watch a movie with him?’ This is a great question, and by asking it the student shows that he does not want to hurt this person’s feelings, but he also does not want to ‘get blazed.’ So how does he decline in a Christian manner?
Many Christians go overboard when someone asks them to sin. They go all ‘fire-and-brimstone’ on the person and scare them away. The person they talk to leaves feeling hurt and thinking Christians are a bit mean. Why? Because the person was asking you to join them to be nice, because they liked you, and was blindsided by the amount of emotion you put into your response.
Here is what we forget when we behave like this:
1. 1 Corinthians 5:12 tells us that we are not to judge those outside the church; they are expected to sin. Our acting ‘shocked’ that this person would do something ‘sinful’ is unreasonable. While you may hope that they would choose better, even without a relationship with Christ, they have not made Christ the Lord of their life, so it is foolish to expect them to follow His rules.
2. What they have just said, without saying it, is, ‘I am not a Christian.’ The bad behavior (here the drug use) is not their biggest problem. If you keep them from doing drugs tonight you may save them a few brain cells, but have you really changed their life? Introducing them to a loving Savior is therefore more important than condemning them for whatever they are currently doing. It is the life-change that a relationship with Christ brings that will ultimately help them to clean up their lives, not your condemnation.
3. They were trying to be nice and include you in their life. To repay kindness with venom is mean. This does not mean that you go and do it with them, but be kind about it. They were putting themselves out there and offering you their friendship. Keep this in mind when you react.
So how do you answer them? You of course do not want to do drugs, or be caught in a situation where the police would assume you were doing drugs, so you would face the consequences regardless, because no one believes you were the only one not doing it. So be honest, but light. Say, ‘Thanks, but I like my brain cells a little too much.’ Then offer to do something else with the person. Chances are, unless your friend is truly addicted, going for pizza is just fine too.
The friend, by offering to do something a typical Christian would not, has just told you that he is not a Christian. So how do you handle this? (Because this is the most important point.) You love him. You treat him well. You talk to him as you would anyone about your beliefs, and invite him to anything you like to go to, including church. He may not go. That is okay. Your relationship is not based on getting him saved. If this is all you are doing, then it is a scam. You must truly love him, regardless of whether he ever goes to church with you or not.
So what if he insists on doing drugs or other offensive things around you, when he knows that you do not like it? Remember, in any relationship, Christian or non-Christian, you have the right to set boundaries. (So does the other person.) If you have asked him not to do something, and he keeps doing it, you can tell him that you cannot hang out with him if this is how it is going to be. He also has the right to ask you not to talk about Jesus, etc. You can still be friendly and respect this. Your actions, and lifestyle, rather than your words will be your testimony. So check your life and remember, the command is to ‘love your neighbor,’ which does not include showing everyone that you are ‘better’ than they are. Your testimony is more powerfully shown through your compassion, the fact that you are willing to help without complaining, saying you are sorry and caring that you hurt people, telling the truth even when it benefits another, treating other’s as if they have worth even when you don’t agree and standing up for what is right when someone is being mean.
Loving people, even when they are Christian, is tough. People rub people the wrong way at times. Keep this in mind and give everyone the grace you would like to be shown when they think differently than you.