She was one of my closest friends. And apparently I didn't care that her eternal destiny was in question.
Actually, I did care. Julie was one of those rare friends I would call a kindred spirit. We were both the daughters of immigrants. We both had a heart for the poor, and often cheered for the underdog. We married into similar families. And we were both deeply spiritual.
The difference was that I was a Jesus follower while her belief system was a cobbled-together mosaic of karma, good deeds, and conflicting standards of right and wrong.
At first, this difference bothered me. Not because I was scared of her or thought she was a terrible person, but because she was so far from Truth. I begged God to show himself to her.
Lord, reveal yourself to her.
Jesus, she's reading a book by a Christian author. Speak to her heart!
Father, she's actually reading the Bible! Please show her you are the only way.
More than anything, I wanted Julie to know Jesus. He was the one I loved and I wanted her to love him too. My spiritual-conversation-opportunities radar was on high alert as I looked for moments to share God's beauty and grace with my friend. I felt thrilled when it seemed Julie took little steps toward Jesus.
But one morning as we laughed over steaming cups of coffee, I realized she wasn't getting any closer to Jesus. And I had a sinking feeling that I might be part of the reason why.
Shocked at my indifference, I pondered this revelation before God. Was I doing something wrong or was this God's slow timing? Should I approach her differently or was it time to walk away?
As I wrestled with myself, God showed me three ways I'd unknowingly extended tolerance instead of Jesus' whole-hearted love and acceptance.
Julie invited me into her home to show off her new couch. As I dutifully ooh-ed and aah-ed over the toffee-colored suede sectional, I caught a glimpse of a new Buddha statue sitting in her living room.
I wish I'd struggled with what to say or whether to say anything at all … but I didn't. In truth, I barely noticed. We'd become so comfortable with each other as friends that Julie's distance from God was normal to me. It didn't even occur to me to notice, to say something, or even to pray about it. It simply passed by as if it were a non-event. I'd become so used to flippantly thinking, It will all work out eventually!, that I didn't bother to notice an external sign of a gaping hole in my dear friend's heart. All I could feel was a twinge of jealousy over her new couch.