Ten-year-old Shavonne became a Christian three weeks ago. Now she’s slamming head-on into a tough choice in living out her new life. Last night her new friends at church pulled her aside and told her to dump all her non-Christian friends. “They’ll pull you into bad stuff,” they insisted. “It’s wrong for you to be friends with people who don’t know Jesus. Christian friends are all you need.”
Talk about it: Should Christians get rid of their non-Christian friends? Why or why not?
Friends pile on pressure-often to do wrong. So people who remind us we need close Christian friends are doing us a favor. Christian friends are so important that the Bible tells us to “try hard to live right and to have faith, love, and peace, together with those who trust in the Lord from pure hearts” (2 Timothy 2:22, NCV). We can count on Christian friends for strength and encouragement while we grow.
But we can’t cut off non-Christian friends. Jesus, in fact, spent so much time with a tough crowd that some people called him “a friend of the worst sort of sinners!” (Matthew 11:19). Here are two big reasons to keep up your connections:
Reason 1: You have the greatest chance of winning your non-Christian friends to Christ. You know them best. You love them most. Who could do a better job telling them about Jesus?
Reason 2: If you ditch your non-Christian friends, they could blame Jesus for losing you as a friend. Whenever anyone tells them about becoming a Christian, their response could be “Sure, and trash all my friends? No way!”
But here’s where Shavonne’s church friends are partly right. If your nonbelieving Friends continue to pile on pressure to do wrong, you need to distance yourself enough to play it safe.
Heads up: If you spend time with non-Christians you might catch it on both ends. Non-Christians mock you because you won’t join in some of their activities, and Christian friends criticize you because they think you’re diving into sin.
But don’t let that stop you from having non-Christian friends. Don’t get mad at your Christian friends either. Just do what Jesus did. Love everyone!
TALK: How well does it work for you to have both Christian and non-Christian friends?
PRAY: God, help us to love like Jesus did—being friends to both believers and nonbelievers.
ACT: Take an inventory of your non-Christian friendships. Are you leading your friends closer to Jesus—or are they pulling you away?