What follows is a story / testimony that one of our youth leaders shared at Solid Rock Youth on Wednesday night. We've posted this with his permission:
"Around the time that I met my friend, Bob, Jesus was filling my life, or what I will refer to as my cup, with all sorts of great things: His living water. I was growing in my relationship with Jesus and quite enjoying it.
But a part of me still struggled with other people's opinions; especially those of people I respected. My new friend, Bob, was quite intelligent, and I respected him, but he didn't believe in God. We got along very well, but whenever I was around him, I muted the Christian aspect of my life, so I wouldn’t offend his intellect. Sure, he knew I went to church, but I never really shared about my faith openly.
Do you know what eventually happened to my cup that Jesus was filling with living water?
Every time I hung out with Bob, I let him fill my cup with a little bit of the dirt he was drinking, including things I didn't necessarily agree with, things I didn't believe in, and discussions or behaviour I knew was wrong.
At first, I would drink a little of the new dirty water and find I didn’t really like it.
But, I couldn't express my opinion or feelings, because you shouldn’t offend anyone, right? You don't want force your beliefs on them, right? How rude! Besides, if I shared what I really believed... Well, Bob would think I was a loser. I mean, he probably already thought I was crazy because I had an imaginary friend named Jesus.
No, no. I had to prove to him that I wasn't a weirdo, and that I wasn't strange or unintelligent. "Don't push me away, Bob," I thought, "Don't think less of me, because I'm just like you!" And we did have a lot in common, and that’s OK, but it wasn’t a good reason to try to hide what we didn’t have in common, which was Jesus.
After a while, I started to get used to drinking from Bob's dirty cup. Soon (and this happens to many people), in my heart I started to justify why the dirt actually wasn't so bad:
"You know what? Once you get used to the crunch, it's pretty good. And the brown colour probably means it's rich in minerals."
If you're not careful, you steadily go from being an influencer to being the influenced. You lower your standards, you conform to the world around you, and you try to fit in to gain acceptance. Not only does this hurt you, but it can hurt people like Bob, and others you come into contact with. These are the very same people whom God sent you into the world to love and to help save.
Meanwhile, I never stopped going to church, I still read my Bible, I still prayed, I was still on the worship team at my last church and so on, but it was amazing how quickly I shut that part of my life away when I was with Bob! It was ridiculous how easily I did it because I was embarrassed, or because I didn't want to offend him.
But this was silly for two reasons:
1. Bob was perfectly all right with making me drink his stinky water, so why should I be afraid to share fresh water? And
2. It was as if I knew Bob was drowning, but I hid the only life ring simply because Bob found life rings offensive.
One day, God got through to me, because He never stops pursuing us no matter what, and He pretty much said, "Where's the water I put in your cup for you to drink and to share, Drue? Where’s the life ring I gave you help others?"
I answered confidently, "I don't know?" And then I started to get nervous and make excuses. But there’s no excuse.
So I apologized and the next time I hung out with Bob, I didn't hide my fresh water. No. I stopped hiding my faith. I spoke about God and my faith like they were a normal, everyday part of my life, because they were! Friends talk about what they love! And I love Jesus!
Since then, I've noticed that Bob is now a little intrigued by what I'm drinking. He's curious, so I keep planting seeds. I don't kick him into a chair and force my cup down his throat, yelling, "DRINK IT!", but being unashamed of what I'm drinking and sharing it openly has been a great start.
I was so quick to let Bob fill my cup before, so quick to try to win the approval of the world, that I hadn't given him a chance to see that I was already drinking something great that he was missing out on.
We still talk. hang out, and have fun but he's learning where I stand, and what I believe, and he respects it and is even open to hearing about it (way more than I originally gave him credit for).
In the end, If you're not doing the influencing, you're probably the one being influenced. Don't hide the only life ring."