Before I even get into this topic, I want to make it extremely clear that I don’t believe Christians should have Christian friends only. Because that is not the case at all. There is value in friendships with people who don’t agree with everything you believe. However, among those relationships needs to be strong, faith-filled friendships. Christians need Christian friends. They are essential, and here’s why.
“You Are Who You Hang Out With”
Have you heard that before? How about, “You are the average of the five people you spend time with most?” What about this one… “Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm” (Proverbs 13:20)? Now, if it were just a couple of motivational quotes that spoke to the importance of choosing your friends wisely, we could let it slide. But it comes straight from scripture, therefore, it is something to strongly consider when choosing friends.
Now, again, I feel like I need to add a disclaimer here. I am not, by any means, saying non-Christians are “fools” or bad people or anything like that. But when it comes to the values, morals, and beliefs of the people you spend the most time with, it is important that they line up with yours. That way, you can encourage each other in your faith and build each other up just like the Bible says to do:
“[Jesus] died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11).
As Christians, we are called to live for God in community with others. Following Jesus is not a walk in the park. It would take too long to list all of the scriptures that talk about the struggles and hard times and temptations that are bound to come our way. Because of this, we need people who understand and support our faith and can lead us back and strengthen us when those hard times come. Christians need Christian friends because they can help do that.
Your Christian Friends are Like Your College Cohort
When you start college, everyone takes the same classes. Regardless of your major, you take Freshmen English, College Algebra, and at least one of the basic sciences. You may be a Communications major sitting next to a Music Theater Major sitting next to a Doctor in the making, but it doesn’t matter. You all have to take the same general education classes at least in the first year.
But something happens in your Junior and Senior year. Your classes become specialized and so do the people you take them with. They are your people. The people who are pursuing the same degree as you. They are your cohort. They take the same classes as you, study for the same tests as you, and have the same (or at least similar) goal as you. You see cohorts a lot in nursing school, where a group of people are together throughout their entire schooling. They take every single class together at the same time, study together, and support each other throughout their schooling.
Your Christian friends are your much-needed cohort throughout life.
Your cohort understands what you are going through because they are going through it too. If you don’t understand something in class, they can help you learn it and practice it. They are there to support and encourage you in the exact ways you need because they need it sometimes too. And when they do, you are there for them.
This is not to say that a Communications major can’t sympathize and encourage a Nursing major. However, they can only understand to a point. It is the cohort of people pursuing the same thing that truly get each other.
Gen Ed classes are pretty easy for the most part. If we’re being honest, it’s just repeating exactly what you spent four years in high school learning. But as soon as things get serious, you need like-minded people around you. Your Christian friends are your much-needed cohort throughout life.
Find Your Cohort of Christian Friends, Mentors, and Teachers
In college, cohorts aren’t just full of like-minded people, but you also have the support and wisdom of older, wiser people. Similar to schooling, you need the guidance of wise teachers throughout your faith walk. You also need mentors who’ve gone through similar experiences to help encourage and carry you through hard, trying times. Like Seniors helping Journiers by lending them an expensive textbook or sharing their study guide for a hard test, when you find your Christian cohort, you are supported on every side.
Now, you’re probably thinking all of this sounds great, but finding Christian friends is hard enough on its own. Throw in some mentors and wise teachers and you’ll be looking for the rest of your life. I know it feels like this. Trust me, I’m still in the process of building this cohort around me and it’s been years. But I won’t give up and you shouldn’t either because Christians need Christian friends. It’s worth the search to find them, so keep searching.
And remember, if you need someone in your corner, I’m always just an email away!