“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 15:5,6).”
As I am writing this I am sitting in an eatery where I mainly stopped in order to not have to drive in the rain with my broken right ankle. (I was hungry, too.) As I entered the door of this establishment, the doors were a little heavy and I had some trouble negotiating them open with my crutches. In addition, the floor was wet. Seeing my predicament, an employee rushed to help me in the door. “I’ve been there,” he said. He went on to serve me hand and foot (pun intended).
I have met several people who have told me about their accidents when they see my cast and crutches. They can relate to me and, even though we don’t know each other, we share a camraderie, a fellowship. They can “feel my pain” so to speak.
It is hard to share fellowship with people who don’t share our values, experiences, and backgrounds. In fact, some people who appear to be a part of our “team” are really enemies. A recent example is the soldier at Fort Hood in Texas who killed and wounded numerous other soldiers. He supposedly was a trusted member of the armed forces. This obviously was untrue.
It is important to have fellow believers in Jesus Christ who share our perspective on a relationship with God and how to live the Christian life. Paul had such friends. He was sure of their character and wisdom and longed to see them. (Romans 15:14,23). He expected for them to pray for him and that when they met they would mutually refresh each other (Romans 15:30-33). His admiration of his fellow workers in the faith jumps of the page at the end of the book of Romans.
Yet, he and his fellow soulmates faced enemies who sought to divide them and bring in false teaching (Romans 16:17,18). These people were only interested in themselves, not the other believers.
We are confronted with the same problem today. Even church leaders deny the existence of God, and it can only be assumed that the work they do is mostly for selfish ambition, not the Lord and His people. On an individual level we all encounter false friends who claim Christ, but fail us when the chips are down.
We can still love and pray for these corporate and individual fair weather friends, but it is best to take Paul’s advice and stay away from them. Instead, stick with the churches and fellow believers who have proven their mettle.