I love to go driving this time of year. There's a crispness in the air, there are bales of hay in fields, and signs announcing pumpkin farms have opened for business. Another thing that you notice is the trees. Some have lost their leaves while others have leaves turning beautiful colors, then gradually falling away from the tree.
Think of the tree as the world. Leaves falling away from the tree that they were “born” on reminds me of becoming a Christian and falling away from this world. We're born into this world and we are of the same sinful nature that we inherited from Adam and Eve. We really are natural born sinners. Psalm 51:5 states “Behold I was shapen in inequity and in sin did my mother conceive me.” As a breeze blows the tree, all the leaves go in the same direction, very much as we do within our circle of friends, sharing the same viewpoints, each agreeing with the other, no one person standing out from the rest of the group.
Then as fall approaches, the leaves start changing. As some of us discover Jesus Christ, we start changing, too. We may not laugh at the off-color jokes. We don't feel comfortable gossiping about someone we know or don't know. Partying on weekends just isn't the same for your friends without you. Why don't they see you on Saturday nights anymore? Your reply may leave them scratching their heads. “I can't stay out late because I get up early Sunday to go to church.” You just can't enjoy church if you're nursing a hang-over.
Soon some leaves are a completely different color than the rest. Some of us find that because we're not the same person we used to be, the group we used to hang out with now ignores us for the most part. A good friend of mine told me this story some time ago. He said a friend called him one day. This was a someone from a group of guys my friend spent a lot of time with before becoming a Christian. He was being invited to a game of golf followed by some excessive drinking to forget a bad round of golf. My friend thanked him for inviting him, saying he would be happy to go golfing, but as for the activity afterward, he said he would skip that. After a pause, the guy actually hung up on my friend. It seems if you don't want to party, your group of friends may not have much use for you.
Soon after turning colors, the leaves begin to fall from the tree, joined by others. As our sinful nature dies we part from the group we associated with. Some of your old friends, after hearing your testimony may find the Lord and start on the path you've chosen. New friends have been made through your activities in church. You may belong to a bible study group, have become a youth pastor, or after attending for a while, you may be a deacon.
By and large, I've found after accepting Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I have felt like something of a fifth wheel. Praying in public over a meal has garnered more than a few curious stares. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22, “All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm till the end will be saved.”
Do you wonder why some old friends refuse to listen to you or have anything to do with you since becoming a Christian? Think about the last few leaves hanging on to that tree, their world. Friends will rebuke you because this world seems to offer more. But don't be discouraged. You're in great company. Jesus also was rebuked by this world.