As a junior at a large high school I was working my way to the “top.” I wanted cool friends, popularity. I was voted Co-Captain of the cheerleading squad and one of the rising stars in football wanted to date me. Life was good. Kind of.
I also had good Christian friends in youth group, and on weekends it was fine to go out for a burger after church or cruise Speedway with them (back before it was a red light district - yikes). But a couple of the guys from youth group also attended my high school, and they kept asking why I didn't go the Bible Club meetings or have lunch with them sometime.
*Sigh* The truth is, they were not cool. At all. They drove an old beater with a push button start, and when that didn't work, they just pushed the thing to start it - preferably downhill so they could pop the clutch. *Groan* I couldn't do it. I just... couldn't ... hang out with them. "Oh, God," I would pray, "You understand, don't you? PLEASE don't make me..."
Long story short, I knew in my heart of hearts that to be a Christian means to identify with Christ --- and other Christians. Scripture teaches clearly that God's people are "set apart" and are of His eternal family. How could I deny (hide from, be embarrassed by, refuse to be identified with) God's family and consider myself a true Christian? I knew I could not.
I made myself stop being a hypocrite at school and I went to lunch with John and what's-his-name (It was the 70's. I can't remember 30-year old details like names). Then they started giving me rides home. We laughed, we got stuck in that dumb car clear out in east Tucson once, we have some funny memories of the "Red Rooster" and some poignant memories of all us "nerds" in Bible Club.
I learned about true friendship when I let go of my fear of rejection from the "cool kids" and started having a blast with God's kids. Honestly, the cheerleaders and jocks who truly cared about me could have cared less if I spent some time with John and "the other guy" or if I went to Bible Club once a week. When I got over myself, I discovered there is value in every human being. I can learn something from everyone. I am not more special than or superior to the unpopular.
If I ever think I am, then I am in trouble with God, because he likes John and whats-his-name with the goofy car. He made them and thinks they're pretty cool.