“The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us—that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:2–3

The age-old fear of losing friends is often referenced by unsaved people who are coming to grips with the significance of “leaving the herd” and following Christ. We will even hear this fear from our children who are being raised in a Christian home. The fear of the cost for standing up for Christ is real. Many will choose cowardice in this area because they do not value Christ more than their “friends.”

Scripture aside, I think it is interesting that those who give credence to this fear usually do not consider the nature of true friendship. A true friend is one “who sticks closer than a brother.” True friendship is not flighty, does not abandon, can weather disagreements, even a change in status when one of the two becomes a full-bore Christian. A relationship that is less is not a true-blue friend; it is rather a relationship of convenience.

Now to the Scriptures! Real friendship, in fact—brotherhood, is what we see in 1 John. Some say, “blood is thicker than water.” I hasten to add, “doctrine is thicker than blood.” John’s point is that there is no stronger unity and no stronger affinity than that which the Holy Spirit engenders in the hearts of men. An unsaved individual does not understand this, and even children raised in a Christian home do not easily perceive it. The bond actually comes to light and strengthens in the crucible of adversity, like the tempering of steel.

The apostles were an example of this brotherhood of the saints. They had walked with the Lord, heard His teaching, observed His life, and experienced His miracles along with every proof that He is the Son of God. Through their senses we gain the confidence that what they attest concerning the Christ is authentic and that eternal life is real. They invite us into their fellowship—partnership with one another and with God.

In a similar fashion, every believer is in fellowship with God, has experienced the riches of His grace, knows spiritual life in Christ, and testifies that such a life is authentic. We testify to the lost world and to believers who do not yet conceive of the unique friendship found among the saints. We must be spokesmen of this unknown world to the uninitiated heart. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

In our Lord’s “high priestly prayer” recorded in John 17 we learn the significance of believers’ oneness to our Lord. It was His request for koinonia fellowship among the saints that occupied a portion of his prayer (John 17:15–22). Just before His prayer request “that they all may be one” is the biblical key to unity, friendship, brotherhood, believing comity and commonwealth. Though He speaks of sanctification (being set apart and holy) three times, He also mentions that which draws the saints together (truth, three times, and word, likewise three times if you include verse 14). The lesson is clear: Doctrine is thicker than blood, thicker than friends” and really a glue for brotherhood. Believers are a testament to the fact that you really do not lose friends in trusting Christ, you gain brothers.

Other Bible references to keep in mind include Psalm 1:1ff, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinner, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD….” Proverbs 29:25 says, “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.” In Proverbs 1:10, Solomon also says, “My son, if sinners entice you, do not consent.” Then in Proverbs 13:20 he says, “He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed.”

James echoes these words with an even more elevated spiritual tone. In James 4:4 he observes, “Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.” Paul similarly cautions against worldly friends in 1 Corinthians 15:33.

The simple truth an honest soul will admit: There is no price a man can put on his own soul (Mark 8:36ff). There is no friendship that should be held dearer to you than the welfare of your eternally living soul. In fact, a simple argument may be made that for the sake of your unsaved friends—the ones you are most afraid of losing—you had better repent and be born again so that you may be a witness of Jesus Christ to your friends. Trust and obey.