A week ago, I received an e-mail from a friend saying that he was converting to Mormonism, and inviting us to his baptism. It knocked the wind out of me like a punch to the chest. I’ve known him for nine years. I was there when he met his wife – who is now my best friend. Another friend had invited him to our campus ministry way back when, and over time he learned more about Christ and decided to follow Jesus.
My first reaction upon reading the e-mail was – if I may make a reference you will find funny, inappropriate, or annoying – “Shun the non-believer! Shuuuun!”
And I was shocked at myself.
Really? A good friend of mine is going through a tough time, and my first reaction is to kick him to the curb? I don’t agree with his choice, but really? Is this how I feel about non-Christians in general? I mean, really, deep down? I was very convicted.
I don’t believe that is how God wants me to treat my friends. Or anyone that doesn’t follow him, maintaining exclusive circles of “in” and “out”.
I went to the baptism for two reasons. One was to show him that even though I didn’t agree with his choice I still care about him and wasn’t going to drop him from my IRL “friend list”. The second was to be there for my best friend. I hadn’t had the chance to talk directly with her, but heard through the grapevine that she was not okay with this. I can’t imagine what she must have been going through.
I had mentioned to a few people beforehand, kind of joking, that I hoped I could get through the ceremony without vomiting. In the minutes before the service began, I felt bile and tears welling up. She was sitting in front of me and turned around to say something. Then whispered to me, with voice cracking, “Don’t you cry. I’ll cry, too.”
I nodded, and immediately broke my promise. I tucked my chin to my chest as silent tears traced lines down my cheeks. I gulped hard and reached next to me to grip another friend’s hand for support. He squeezed back, hard, and said nothing.