When I became a Christian, I discovered many things. My eyes were opened for the first time and life finally makes some sense. But no one told me a pilgrim’s journey can be a very lonely one. Especially so if you’re living among people other faiths. Among my close friends, only one shares the same spiritual family as me. This is my 6th year in the Kingdom. My church has a 12,000 member congregation. I think it odd that the majority of my friends are nonbelievers. If you are a Christian, you probably know the kind of ache associated with that. I know part of the reason is because I do not attend a cell-group. And with a church of that size, intimacy is a huge challenge. And of course, my own private nature is not helping the situation either.

I have passed the phase of actively seeking friendship. Real friendship, just like any kind of relationship, is a lot of hard work. You can’t just leave it unattended and expect it to grow. I would much rather spend time nurturing the friendships I have now than to seek new ones. For some strange reason, God has surrounded me with a large number of non-believing friends. My non-believing friends are wonderful people. I cherish their friendship and thank God for them. But there are times when I wish there are more friends whom I can relate to spiritually and vice-versa. And again, if you are a Christian you know at the moment of your spiritual birth, something else happens besides salvation. You receive a new pair of lens and with it, a brand new way of looking at life and the world around you. You interpret and recreate all of life’s experiences through that lens from then on. I don’t know if this is the experience of every believer but it was for me, at least. So I now relate to the world and people around me differently than I would before I was saved. And that sort of poses a problem because I realize that my worldview is now in conflict with the majority of my friends. It can get frustrating and lonely sometimes, going against the grain. Our joys, pains and struggles means very different things from our non-believing friends. Our interests, goals and passions and the decisions that we make everyday are all shaped by our worldview. It is difficult therefore for those outside to fully comprehend them. Sometimes, we feel misunderstood. It’s just like how the gospel is good news to some but foolishness to others.

If you’ve lived in a foreign land long enough, you probably will have some idea how it’s like. You love your homeland. There are so many things you want to share about your beautiful homeland. You want to gush about the food, the places and the people, their passion and their way of life. The locals in the foreign land are polite and would listen to you sometimes. Some might even be impressed with your stories but you know there is so much more which you cannot express with words alone. Can they ever appreciate or get excited about it the way you do? It is something you feel they have to experience for themselves to know. This is pretty much how I feel most of the time. Like an alien in a foreign land.

And so we wish and hope there would be someone who can identify with our feelings and thoughts and care about the things we care about. Maybe even someone who shares the same vision and passion as us. Everyone wants that don’t they? Whether they are Christians or not. Everyone wants a soul mate. Finding one within the Kingdom itself is more difficult than you think. What more in a foreign land.

If the day ever comes that I should find such a mate, I think I’d be so undone.

rk

I think part of the reason why Christians might feel isolated even within our own kind is because in our sincere desire to bear a good testimony to the Lord we have forgotten to be real. We become too serious, too spiritual, too careful, too unreal, turning off everyone including ourselves. We have created a subculture and community of our own and unconsciously separating ourselves from our neighbors. I know as Christ’s redeemed ones, we are set apart unto God. I am not advocating that we should abandon that and live like the rest of world. Or that we should not gather among ourselves to encourage, feed and serve one another. Certainly not. But we have to learn to live out our faith among our neighbors. It is not going to be easy but it is certainly possible. How else are we going to be salt of the earth if we just keep to ourselves?

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