12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
The world is populated with friends. This is because we are all sinners, and most people, deep down in their spiritual sensibilities, know this. So if we think of the Twelve Steps as applying to sinners instead of just alcoholics, then the whole world is a potential AA meeting, or in this case, it would be an SA meeting: Sinners Anonymous.
This is not what I learned growing up, however. I grew up prejudiced against anybody who wasn’t a Christian, which was pretty much everybody I didn’t know. But listen to what Jesus said: “Whoever is not against us is for us” (Mark 9:39). Or, in other words: Unless a person is an outright proclaimed enemy of the gospel, he/she can be considered a friend. That means there are lots of friends out there waiting to be claimed.
These are actually statements of differing worldviews. One has the world full of friends, the other has it full of enemies. How you think about the world determines which reality is true for you.
I think as Christians in this culture, we have made lots of enemies we didn’t have to make. We have drawn lines in the sand that were not there in the first place, and accused people on the other side of the line for the crime of being over there when we drew it. (We never gave them a chance, in other words.) It’s almost as if we have had to create and maintain a good supply of enemies in order to fulfill this self-proclaimed animosity with the world that incorrectly defines us.
This is not a good way to behave when representing the God of second chances — the God who, if He had not been abundantly gracious would never have called us His friends, and would never have given us even a first chance. I think it best to assume there are a lot of friends of God out there, just waiting to be found.
As the writer of Hebrews put it: “Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2). That’s truly giving the benefit of a doubt to those who are not “of us.” It’s a good place to begin.