Many of us secretly hope that becoming a Christian won’t affect our preexisting friendships. But the natural and necessary division that Jesus promised is inescapable (Mt.10:34-37; Lk.12:51). Yes, we will still, like Jesus, lovingly reach out with the message of the gospel to our “old friends” (Eph.5:11-16), but our intimates and confidants will be exchanged for those who love and worship Christ. To fight this inevitable reality is as futile as marrying the woman you adore and having your “old friends” chronically belittle, malign, misrepresent, misquote and insult your new wife (which non-Christians do to Christ every day with their attitudes, values and allegiances, if not their words).
How could a man claim to value and cherish the relationship with his wife above all other human relationships, and passively endure her disparagement by his “old friends”? It’s not that we end our old set of relationships by some declaration or decree, but when we consistently stand up for Christ and his honor, when we urgently call our non-Christian friends to “Wake up!” and embrace Christ (Eph.5:14), those “old friends” have a way of either repenting of their sins or backing away – sometimes in dramatic fashion.
But don’t despair. When non-Christians abandon us because of our allegiance to Christ, God has a terrific and caring way of replacing those important relationships with those who are sold-out to following Christ (Mk.10:28-30).