That phrase always reminds me of conflict resolution. When two parties are locked in a dispute, a third party often says, "Letís see if we can reach some common ground." One of the great tensions for the believer is the fact that we are in the world but not of the world. That is much more than some semantical toying with words.
My wife tells the story of a lady in the first church we pastored in Canada. At a womenís Bible study, this one lady piped up and said, "Praise God, now all my friends are Christians, I donít have any non Christian friends." Judy immediately responded, "Thatís nothing to praise the Lord for. I praise Him for all the friends I have who are not yet believers."
When you stop and think about it, Jesus was chided by the religious leaders of His day for just that fact; "Why this man befriends tax collectors and sinners!" Now, I know it is a delicate matter to have friends that are not believers, but the difficulty exists only to the extent that we get confused about our roles and our beliefs.
The story of Lot, in the Old Testament, is a sober warning for us to be careful how we approach this subject. There is a terrible progression that takes place. Lot picked Sodom as the place where he would settle. He picked it because of its appearance. (Contrast this with Abraham who picked where he settled by following the promptings of the Lord.) So we see a downward spiral. Lot chose without seeking God. He then "pitched his tent" near Sodom. Finally he ends up in the city Gates of Sodom, inferring that he not only settled there, but was welcomed into a leading role there.
This morning I would like for us to look at the whole subject of choosing friends and Christian fellowship. I trust that the Lord will bring into focus all that He has for us to do with this vital subject.