Should I be friends with people who don’t follow Jesus?
Why it's good to be friends with people who believe in different religions.
We all know that it’s important to have friends who aren’t Christians. When we share our lives with those who don’t know Jesus, we have a wonderful opportunity to show them love and share the gospel with them at appropriate moments.
But do you have any friends who don’t just not believe in Jesus, but believe in something else entirely instead?
While it can be a whole new challenge to form a friendship with someone of a different faith to you, it’s also exciting, eye-opening and lots of fun! Here are some of the reasons why you should consider making friends with someone of a different faith:
You’ll learn about their faith
You probably know a fair amount what you believe in, but do you know much about other religions? What do you know about Islam or Buddhism? Do you know anything about the Sikh or Jewish religions? Much of what we know of other religions comes from what we see on TV or read about in the newspaper, but if you really want to learn about a religion, spend some time with someone of that faith. You’ll learn real facts and be equipped to discuss the ins and outs of both your religions.
You might get to experience a new culture
Often, religion is closely tied to cultural background. So spending time with someone of a different faith may involve new food, new types of celebrations and new customs! Embrace the variety that comes from spending time with people who don’t share the same background as you.
You’ll probably get to talk about the gospel
At some point, if you’re open about your faith, you’re going to get involved in a conversation about what you believe with your friend. This is God giving you an opportunity to share the gospel! Though it might seem more likely for someone who doesn’t believe anything at all to turn to Jesus than someone who already has put their faith anywhere, don’t forget that when we give our lives to God he uses us powerfully for his purposes. You may be the one who clearly explains the amazing gift of grace to your friend and helps them come to follow Jesus!
But how do I carry out this friendship well?
While having friends of other faiths is great, it can also be challenging! Here are some pointers for relating well to people of other faiths:
NEVER mock or insult your friend because of their faith. Even if something they believe seems silly to you, be respectful and kind as you ask questions and learn more. Be humble!
Don’t force the gospel down their throats
While it’s always great to share the gospel with your friends, it’s also always important to not shove the gospel down the throats of those who don’t believe. Don’t treat your friend like you’re only hanging out with them to convert them. Talk about your common interests and enjoy spending time together, then talk about the gospel occasionally or when you feel it’s right. Don’t hold back on sharing your personal experience of Christianity (such as how you’re finding church) but make sure you aren’t making your friend feel pressured or uncomfortable.
Be gentle with the hard truth
Jesus says that the only way to the Father is through him. Therefore, we believe that the only thing you should have faith in is Jesus, and his power to save us. This is a hard truth though. Plenty of people have faith in other things, and they really believe they’re going to be saved by those things. And it can be really hard to look at a kind, loving friend and believe that just because they don’t know Jesus they won’t be going to heaven! But that’s the truth – Jesus’s death and resurrection was the way the one true living God dealt with the problem of sin and only by accepting this solution we can experience eternity with God.
When you’re talking about the fact that you believe Jesus is the only way to God, you need to be gentle. Your friend might feel offended, or scared, or become very defensive. So make sure you take it slowly, arm yourself with historical evidence to back up your conversations when appropriate, and pray for your friend, that they will come to know the truth of the gospel.
While it may not always be as easy to hang out with someone of a different faith as it is to hang out with your Christians friends, it’s a really worthwhile, exciting and often fun experience, and you may get to see God doing extraordinary things.