Should I just be friends with Christians?
Christian teens: here's why you should be friends with people who don't follow Jesus.
Making friends is a really important part of being a human. God created us as social beings who long to be in relationship with others, so it’s no wonder that for teenagers, our friends are one of the most important things in our lives!
But if you’re a Christian teen, you might have wondered: should I just be friends with other Christians?
The short answer to that question is no! Let’s take a look at why…
All people are created in the image of God
In Genesis 1, we are told that God created humans in his image. Not just Christians, but all of us!
Your Hindu friend, your Muslim mate, your atheist pal – all of them are created in God’s image and have inherent worth and dignity.
Obviously it would be best if they also followed Jesus, but they are not worth less because they don’t. Jesus died for all of us before we became Christians.
If you limit yourself to only Christian friends, you’re cutting yourself off from the beauty and wonder that is in all humans – uniquely created and special.
Our non-Christian friends can be funny, creative, loving and inspiring, because they too are created in the image of God. That’s a lot of good stuff to enjoy!
We are called to love everyone
In Matthew 23, Jesus tells his followers that the second greatest commandment is for us to love our neighbours as ourselves.
So who is our neighbour? Well an enthusiastic man asks Jesus this question in Luke 10, and in response Jesus tells the story of the Good Samaritan.
The Samaritan and the man who he helps are of different faiths, but Jesus uses them as an example of the love and care we are meant to show to each other.
Now, loving everyone doesn’t mean we have to be friends with everyone! There are some people we will show Christlike love to even though they aren’t technically our friends.
But given that love is a major component of friendship, becoming friends with non-Christians is a great way to love them.
It’s a great opportunity to show and share the gospel
Surveys show that there are many non-Christian people in Australia who don’t know even one Christian – and we’re a fairly Christian country!
When you become friends with a non-Christian, you may be the person they look to as an example of what it means to follow Jesus. You’re the one they’ll think of when Christians are mentioned in the media or when one of their other friends criticizes Christianity.
That’s a big responsibility, but it’s also a great reason to invest in these friendships! When you follow Jesus faithfully in front of others, they will witness your faith and love and therefore see Jesus in a more positive light.
Plus, the context of friendship is a great place to have more intentional conversations about Jesus. Just be careful that your friend doesn’t think the only reason you’re hanging out with them is to convert them!
A quick warning
Now having said all that… we do need to be a little careful when becoming friends with non-Christians.
Often, non-Christians will have different ideas of what is right and wrong to us. That doesn’t mean we need to cut them out of our lives, but we may need to be prepared to stand up and say ‘no’ if they want us to do something we aren’t comfortable with.
Additionally, it is often said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. If all your close friends are non-Christians, it’s possible that you could struggle to maintain your faith and keep sticking up for what God says is good and right.
So what’s the solution? Well, have lots of non-Christian friends, but also have lots of Christian friends!
Attending church or youth group is a great way to make Christian friends who will check in with you, encourage you in your faith, and who will understand what you’re going through.
Friendship is a wonderful thing, but as with all parts of life, being a Christian means we need to approach it in a slightly different way.