Non-Christian Friends? 7 Reasons You Need Them
Actually, the original title for this blog was, 7 Reasons You Need Some Heathen Friends. But that was a bit harsh. Plus, when I say heathen, I don’t see a hopeless sinner, I see Aunt Esther calling Fred a heathen in Sanford and Son. (Consult your parents or Netflix…and yes, I did watch too much TV.)
For years we have known that the longer we remain members of a good bible believing church, the fewer friends we’ll have outside of that church. Now, that’s understandable and at times absolutely necessary. There are some friends we don’t need to keep. But you can’t cut them all off! How can you expand the kingdom of God if all of your friends are already inside? I believe the church is paying a steep price for its reluctance to engage a lost world. Not through research and revivals, but through relationships.
So, let me give you 7 reasons you should have some non- Christian friends
Because that was you. I’ve noted the results of the historic Arn survey before. They asked the question, “Who was the person primarily responsible for introducing you to Christ or your church?” The results were clear. The vast majority of us, more than 70%, came to Christ because of the influence of a friend or relative. One friend telling another friend what worked for them. It works for Amway, it works even better for the gospel.
Because that was your family. From the time my kids could crawl, I was obsessing over how soon they would accept the gospel. Sure, my head told me that God was in control, but my heart wasn’t’ settled until I felt they were safe. That non-Christian neighbor is not only God’s creation, but someone’s’ son or daughter. Treat them the way you’d like someone to treat your lost family member.
Because some things shouldn’t bother you now. We need to be careful of compromise. We need to be aware of how bad company can influence us. We need to avoid people and places that corrupt our morals. But you shouldn’t be as vulnerable and as sensitive about certain things today as you were when you were a young Christian. It’s called maturity.
I have four children. When they were babies I made all of their decisions for them. I told them what to eat, what to wear, what to drink, when to go to bed…..you get the picture. Now if I was making the same decisions for them at 12 that I did when they were 2, then something would be wrong. Their development would be stunted. And I’m afraid that’s a problem with some Christians. They see separation from the world as super spiritual when it might actually be arrested development.
Because it makes you share. Having non-Christian friends makes you share your faith. Because inevitably matters of faith will come up. The importance of cultivating non-Christian friendships is that generally before people trust Christ, they need to trust a Christian. Christians are called to be salt and light. It’s impossible to do that if we’re not in relationship with those who need Christ.
Because it makes you sharp. Most Christians don’t know how little they know, until they try to share what they know. Many Christians don’t realize how wacky some of their beliefs sound, until they try to explain them. Everything is great as long as you’re with your own little group. But when you get outside that clique and someone asks the simple one word question, “Why?”, then you’re in trouble.
Years ago, I befriended a Mormon couple in Franklin, Tennessee. At some point, they challenged my explanation of Ellen White. It surprised me but it motivated me to reexamine a few things. I was challenged, I checked it out, I changed, and it’s been a blessing to this day.
Because your church is shrinking. A practical benefit of having non-Christian friends is that they are candidates for the body of Christ, the church. And make no mistake about it, there’s nothing inherently holy about a shrinking church. Some churches are remnant churches because the ones who are left ran the other ones out! Luke 13:6-9 and John 15:16 represent passages that remind us that God is looking for us to bear fruit. Fruit in our lives and fruit from our witness.
I conduct evangelistic campaigns regularly, and when we ask members to invite their friends to the meetings many quickly realize that they don’t have any. All of their friends are right there in the church. Is it a sin? Probably not. Is it a shame? Absolutely.
Because it imitates Christ. Christ is known by over 200 titles and names in the Bible. Everything from Bread of life to Son of God to Prince of peace. I love them all, but I’m particularly drawn to one. Friend of Sinners. Why? Well it’s pretty simple and a bit selfish. Because if He was a friend of sinners then, He’s a friend of sinners now. I need that kind of friend.
Look at Luke 5:29-32. “And Levi gave a big reception for Jesus in his house, and there was a great crowd of tax gatherers and other people who were reclining at the table with them. And the Pharisees and their scribes began grumbling at His disciples saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax gatherers and sinners? And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”
Seems pretty clear to me. We serve a God who keeps bad company. And it’s also clear that He expects the same passion from us. Jesus put it this way in John 20:21, “As the Father has sent me, so send I you.” Let’s get busy.