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Can Faithful Christians be Frenemies?

Can we be just “nice enough” to each other in the brotherhood in the Church? How do we deal with friendships and conflicts as Christians?


What Does the Bible Say About Friends and Enemies?

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Brother Bob Pellien: Friends, there are good and true friendships that help us uphold our Christian brotherhood. But do we have to be friends, or even friendly, with everyone? Even frenemies, or people who don’t really seem like true friends?  

Hello, everyone! The Bible is the basis of our teachings in the Church Of Christ, which answers questions about proper worship, for example, [the] right relationship with God, and, most importantly, salvation because — That’s in the Bible! 

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That’s in the Bible!

Brother Bob: I’m Bob Pellien, and welcome to the program: That’s in the Bible! 

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Brother Bob Pellien

Minister of the Gospel

Brother Bob: Today’s topic, the questions that we’ve received regarding friendship and brotherhood, can be summarized into this question: Can Christians be Frenemies?

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Can Christians be Frenemies?

Brother Bob: To properly answer the question, we need to understand the terms being used here, right? Now we know what Christians are: those who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, or His true disciples. But what is a “frenemy”? For that definition, let’s refer to as our resource. It says a Frenemy is, “A person or group that is friendly toward another because the relationship brings benefits, but harbors feelings of resentment or rivalry.”

You know, we can see here from the definition that “frenemy” seems to be a word which combines friend and enemy, right? Friendly toward one another, but underneath there’s harboring of feelings of resentment. Some may argue that if someone has resentful feelings toward another, then simply maintaining friendliness towards that person, well, that then is the right way to solve the resentment, the conflict. But since we’re specifically referring to Christians, and how we should feel about and interact with one another, then the Bible is our resource. 

So, we will discuss here today: What is a true friend and what type of friendship does Christ instruct His disciples to have? And how should problems – problems that can lead to resentment – how should they be handled? And then we’ll conclude with can Christians be frenemies?

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What is a true friend?

What type of friendship does Christ instruct His disciples to have?

How should problems that can lead to resentment be handled?

Can Christians be Frenemies?

Brother Bob: So according to the Bible, dear friends, what is a true friend? And you know, what is the value of having true friends in our lives? Well, we turn to the Holy Bible, as I said, and we turn to the book of Proverbs. Proverbs, chapter 17, verse 17, where it says:

A friend loves at all times. He is there to help when trouble comes.

[Proverbs 17:17 New International Reader’s Version]

Brother Bob: So the value of having a true friend is that he or she, well, they’re going to be there to help. When? When trouble comes. True friends do this. Why? To show their love. What’s one of the ways a true friend helps? Let’s continue here in the book of Proverbs. This time we’ll turn to chapter 27, verse nine:

Perfume and incense bring joy to your heart. And a friend is sweeter when he gives you honest advice.

[Proverbs 27:9 New International Reader’s Version]

Brother Bob: One of the best ways that a real friend can help is by doing what? Giving or providing honest advice. Genuine friends tell us the truth and not merely what one wants to hear. So surrounding ourselves with friends like this, of course, it’s really important. But are all friends, are all persons who simply act friendly, good to have in our lives? You know, the Bible goes on to teach us in the writings of Apostle Paul, this time we turn to I Corinthians, chapter 15, verses 33 and 34. Are all friends good to have in our lives, so-called friends I guess we should say? I Corinthians 15 reads this way:

But don’t be deceived by what the world promotes! The reality is that unhealthy friends and associates corrupt good character. Be sensible, do what’s right and healthy because it is right and healthy, …

[I Corinthians 15:33-34 The Remedy New Testament]

Brother Bob: The Bible mentions here that there is such a thing as unhealthy friends and associates. What would happen if a person surrounded himself with these kinds of friends? Well, it states that those types of friends would corrupt good character. So what’s the good advice given to navigate those decisions on who to spend time with?  He said, “don’t be deceived by what the world promotes! Be sensible, do what’s right.” 

How do I know if someone is an unhealthy friend? What is good and right? Remember, dear friends, that was already defined in Romans 7:12:

So then, the Law itself is holy, and the commandment is holy, right, and good.

[Romans 7:12 Good News Translation]

Brother Bob: God’s laws are what are good and right. So we had a viewer, in fact, who emailed to the program and asked specifically about such unhealthy or bad friends. Jason from San Diego, asked it this way, “Why do people pretend to be your friends when in reality they’re not?”

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Jason Kim | San Diego, California

Why do people pretend to be your friends when in reality they’re not?

Brother Bob: This is exactly what the Bible is talking about here. Those are the unhealthy friends that can corrupt, that can present as friendly, yet can corrupt your character. 

Now, when it comes to the type of friendship that Christians should have, how should Christians or true members of the Church Of Christ interact and feel towards each other? What does Christ instruct His disciples? Let’s read in John 13, 34 and 35: 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

[John 13:34-35 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: The Lord Jesus Christ gives an important commandment to follow, and it identifies or presents the mark that we are truly His disciples. What is it? He said, “that you love one another.” Therefore, as Christians, we are not just to be nice enough to each other, right? But rather, Jesus was very clear. He said, “have love” for each other. And how much should Christians love one another? Jesus also clarified that when He said, “as I have loved you, that you also love one another.”

Therefore, [it] needs to be real, honest, genuine love, the kind of love that would make us willing to sacrifice for each other. This is a level of love and a level of friendship that is uncommon today, you know, in this world. What would loving each other in this way that Jesus spoke about here, what would it prove?

As we read, the Lord Jesus explained, He said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Why is Christ requiring this, requiring His disciples or true Christians to love one another, not just be friendly, but to love one another? What is the relationship to each other, also according to our Lord Jesus Christ? We turn this time to Matthew 23:8. Jesus said this:

But you are not to be called “Rabbi,” because you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers and sisters.

[Matthew 23:8 Christian Standard Bible]

Brother Bob: What do they have in common, making them brothers and sisters? Well, Jesus went on to add in the following verse, in verse nine, what they have in common:

Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.

[Matthew 23:9 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: So here we can see the unique relationship Christians have with each other. Here, the Lord Jesus said to His disciples that, “you are all brothers and sisters.” Now, we can understand why Christ’s commands love to prevail among His followers because they’re brothers and sisters or part of a brotherhood in the Church. But in what way are followers of Christ brothers and sisters to each other? Why did He use that term? Because real Christians, or members of the true Church Of Christ, have only one spiritual Father. As He said, “He who is in heaven.” They are brothers and sisters in the faith, and therefore commanded to love one another, brothers and sisters.

Now, we have established that since real Christians should always maintain their love for one another, it’s because they’re brothers and sisters. But do we know that every type of relationship experiences some type of disputes, right, or some type of misunderstandings creep in now and again. So how then should we deal with frenemies before, in fact, it gets to the point of resentment or even animosity? How do we resolve problems and conflicts that can lead to such resentment? Again, we turn to the Holy Bible for an answer, and we read from the book of Matthew, chapter 18, verse 15, wherein it says the following:

“If your brother sins against you, go to him and show him his fault. But do it privately, just between yourselves. If he listens to you, you have won your brother back.

[Matthew 18:15 Good News Translation]

Brother Bob: Here, the Lord Jesus Christ’s instruction to any disciple who, well, may feel like he’s been wronged or sinned against by a fellow Christian, is to “go to him.” And what? “Show him his fault.” Notice it’s not the sinner that Christ is instructing. We point this out because many feel like they’ve been wronged, then they’ll just wait to be approached. In the meantime, feel resentment, stalking maybe, even their friend’s social media accounts, waiting for even that small sign that their friend was apologetic. 

But we can see the wisdom in Christ’s instruction because many times a person who offends another, they’re not even aware that an offense was made. But the one who was offended, well, they’re fully aware, right? So what’s the purpose one should have when approaching a fellow Christian who has done some wrong or caused some offense against you? Christ said, “go to him, show him his fault.” So that the offended is being instructed to approach his brother to talk things over and try to resolve the problem.

Notice also the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ regarding how to talk things over. He said, “do it privately, just between yourselves.” Again, we can also see how Christ is guiding His followers how to properly contain misunderstandings in order to solve them and to not allow them to spread, worsen, right? Unlike some who unfortunately, purposely, broadcast their conflicts and discuss the problem with everybody, everybody except the party involved. And they do it sometimes on social media, which is, that’s the opposite of privacy, right?

So if conflicts are handled by following these biblical instructions, what would be the outcome between two faithful Christians? Christ said, “If he listens to you, you have won your brother back.” More often than not, good, open communication can help solve misunderstanding. But is that the only thing needed to resolve a conflict or a problem between Christians in order to avoid the resentment leading to animosity, in order to avoid awkward interactions, where your status as friends and even the status of the brotherhood is in question? What’s necessary to fully resolve a conflict and restore the love between brothers and sisters in the faith? I’d like to quote an important instruction, this time in the writings of Apostle Paul. In Ephesians, chapter four, verse 32, it says:

And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

[Ephesians 4:32 New King James Version]

Brother Bob: So, as Christians, we’re instructed to be kind and tenderhearted to one another. If problems arise that can cause, well, resentment, open communication has been applied as instructed, what then is necessary to restore love and peace? As we read, there needs to be forgiveness. If one complains that, well, “It’s not my fault,” then he should do the forgiving. If the other one says, “I didn’t do anything wrong,” then he, too, should then forgive because the instruction was very clear—forgive one another. 

So both should perform the act of forgiving, and what was the biblical example of how to forgive each other? Well the Bible stated, “even as God in Christ forgave you.” So let’s remember that we all have committed sin against God and, well, [we’re] constantly asking Him for forgiveness, right? When God forgives, He does not hold us prisoner of our mistakes and resent us, especially if we genuinely change. This is how we’re instructed to forgive one another—fully, completely.

Reviewing, then, the questions that we started our discretion with: “What is a true friend?” It is someone who loves us and would sacrifice for us. “What type of friendship does Christ instruct His disciples to have?” It is a friendship that’s based on the fact that we are brothers, sisters, under our Father in heaven. “How should problems that can lead to resentment be handled?” We learned that we should go to our friend before they become a frenemy, and speak to them privately to resolve the issue.

So now we can answer the question also: “Can Christians be frenemies?” The answer is no. Instead of being frenemies, or merely pretending to be friendly with each other, properly resolve conflicts. How? By following Christ’s instructions and restoring genuine, brotherly love. Why? Because that’s in the Bible.

We’d like you to continue learning about the Iglesia Ni Cristo, the Church Of Christ. 

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Brother Bob: So please visit us online and browse the different topics, or set up an appointment to meet with a minister of the Gospel. And if you have any questions about the Bible, salvation, please email them to us. 

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Brother Bob Pellien

Minister of the Gospel

Brother Bob: I’m Bob Pellien. Thanks for watching! See you next time right here on That’s in the Bible!

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Can Faithful Christians be Frenemies?