You are the company you keep?

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I honestly have best friends in the world! 

I know you are reading this thinking, “No, I have the best friends,” but we will have to agree to disagree. 

We are well-aware that we are not a normal group of 30-somethings. I know that most people in their 30s do not see their friends every week. We have a group of eight of us that see each other at least once per week. We also text in our group message pretty much every day. Four of those friends I have known for more than 20 years. I also have a few friends that I met in Kindergarten, friends from middle school and high school, friends from my days in CYO, from volleyball and, of course, friends from ministry and Bishop Stang. 

I do not write this to make it sound like I am bragging about all the friends that I have. I write this to emphasize that I have friends from a variety of areas in my life. 

Some of my friends were raised Catholic and have since left the faith. Some of my friends are Catholic and attend Mass on the major holidays only. Some of my friends were raised in a different faith or no faith at all. Some of my friends attend Mass every week. 

Some of my friends are priests (OK, honestly a good chunk of my friends are priests). Some of my Catholic friends share the same beliefs as me and some do not. Some of my friends are Republicans, some Democrats, some Independent, and some — like my husband — just registered to vote for the first time. 

Why am I writing all this? I heard a statement on K-Love recently that really resonated with me. The radio personality said, “If all your friends are just like you, then you are doing it wrong.” 

It was such a different statement than what I had heard before. We have heard so many times growing up, “You are the friends you keep.” But this quote was saying something different. And in a world of growing political divisiveness, I found that it was a great reminder of who we are all called to be. 

Scripture tells us much about friendship. In Proverbs it states, “A friend loves at all times” (Prov 17:17). Again in Proverbs we read, “Iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (Prov 27:17). 

And of course, Jesus tells us, “There is no greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for a friend” (Jn 15:13). Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Find a person who voted like you and call them a friend” or “Friends are people who believe the exact same things.”

To be a friend is to love, to encourage, to sacrifice. As I type this, one of my best friends just offered to run an errand for me, even though she is waiting to hear from a doctor on her time to be induced! That is what it means to be a friend.

Just before His Ascension into Heaven, Jesus left us with these words: “Go out to all the world preaching the Good News; baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We are called to preach the Good News to the whole world. How easy is it to be Christian when everyone around you is a Christian? 

Christ did choose 12 devout Jews to be His disciples. He did not only preach to people who already got it. If we only surround ourselves with people who are just like us, we are doing it wrong. We need to be able to share our faith to all people. 

I do not read the Bible to my friends when we hang out, however they know what I believe and have asked me questions about why I believe what I believe and often ask me to pray for situations and people in their lives. 

It’s great to have that support from the people who share our beliefs. That’s what gives us the energy and fuel to keep going. 

Surround yourself with all types of people, but preach Christ to the whole world. 

Anchor columnist Amanda Tarantelli has been a campus minister at Bishop Stang High School in North Dartmouth since 2005. She is married, a die-hard sports fan, and resides in Cranston, R.I. She can be reached at atarantelli@bishopstang.org.


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