Should I Have Non-Christian Friends?

Dear Christian Sister,

I grew up in the public school system. Both of my parents are teachers and believe in public education. They are also both Christians. Suffice it say, I was raised to value education &, more importantly, to love the Lord.

As an adult, I think back on my time in school and I am so grateful that starting from a young age, I learned how to be a Christian in a world that is hostile to the Lord.

In class I was taught the theory of evolution (and yes, I was taught it was a theory. That was less than 15 years ago). At home I was taught the biblical account of Creation. In class I was taught about “reproductive health.” At home I was taught God’s plan for the family and the sanctity of human life.

Most of my friends growing up considered themselves Catholic. Many called themselves Christians, though not all of them lived in a way that supported their claim. I’d venture to guess that the majority were (and still are) not followers of Christ.

I was often at odds with my friends on political, social, & cultural topics. I wasn’t allowed to watch certain movies. I wasn’t allowed to listen to certain types of music or certain musicians. I was different, my family was different. For many of my friends, there was a disconnect between religious beliefs & everyday life. In my family, our religious beliefs guided & defined our everyday life.

But we were still friends and I had some unique opportunities to talk to my friends about why my life and family were different or why I wasn’t at the party on Saturday night. This opened the door for me to share Christ with them.

Is it important to have non-Christian friends? My answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” and I think there is biblical evidence for my response.

Now of course we need to set some boundaries. We should not be engaging in or supporting sinful behaviors and justifying it as “witnessing.” Jesus spent time with the sinners of His day, but in no way did he participate in, or condone, their sin.

In Matthew 5:13-16, Jesus calls His followers the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a city on a hill. He says, “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in Heaven.” Your life should reflect & glorify your Creator. It should be distinct from the rest of the world, so unbelievers take notice and also follow after Christ.

In Matthew 28, Jesus instructs His followers to “Go therefore and make disciples.” He doesn’t only call pastors or missionaries to this. He commands all of His followers to make disciples. If the only people you spend time with are fellow-believers, how are you making disciples? There’s absolutely a place, a need, for a solid, Christian community in the life of the believer, but Jesus commands us to go to all the nations and make disciples.

Not only should we be setting a godly example with our lives, but we should be actively sharing the Gospel.

We are all sinners in need of salvation. Romans tells us that we have all sinned and the punishment for that sin is death. Jesus paid the penalty we deserved. All humans need to hear the Gospel.

This means foreigners. This means fellow citizens. This means your coworkers. This means your neighbors, your friends, your teachers. This means your children.

Discipleship starts in relationship.

Christian sister, be a light. Don’t keep the good news to yourself. Ask the Lord to soften the hearts of your non-Christian friends. Ask Him to help you stand firm in your faith & model your life after Christ. Ask Him to create opportunities to share the Gospel.