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Q&A – Should I Be Friends with Non-Christians?

Question:

One of my closest friends is not a Christian. In fact, she’s Hindu. I know the Bible says not to be yoked with unbelievers and I want to listen to what the Bible says, but I also still want to be friends with her. What am I supposed to do?

Answer:

The word Christian means “one who follows Christ”; so, should we, as Christians, be friends with people who do not follow Christ?

The answer is YES. We should. Following Jesus Christ means living by the example that He set for us while He was here on earth. It’s important, however to follow all of the example that Jesus set, we can’t just pick out parts of Jesus’ life and ministry that we want to follow and ignore parts that we don’t. So let’s look briefly, at how Jesus responded to some non-Christians.

We’re going to look at Matthew chapter nine, but before we do let me give you one very important background fact: By the time Jesus called Matthew to be His disciple, Jesus already had a least four of the 12 disciples – Peter, Andrew, James and John. Those four guys were with Jesus during the Sermon on the Mount and they had been hanging out with Jesus for a while. They were good Jewish guys, they believed that Jesus was the Messiah and they knew and followed the Law as they understood it.

Matthew 9:9-10 – As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man called Matthew, sitting in the tax collector’s booth; and He (Jesus) said to him (Matthew), ‘Follow Me!’ And he (Matthew) got up and followed Him (Jesus). Then it happened that as Jesus was reclining at the table in the house [probably Matthew’s house], behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and were dining with Jesus and His disciples.

Two things are important in this Scripture:

  1. Jesus hung out and had dinner with sinners – people who didn’t know God, didn’t understand God or thought they didn’t need God.
  2. Jesus did NOT do this alone. This is a very important part of Jesus’ example to be friends with non-Christians. Jesus took His Christian buddies with Him when He hung out with non-Christians. Jesus never sent His disciples out alone, they always had at least one strong Christian partner with them.

The second point is so important. We’re called to minister and be friends of those who don’t yet know Christ but this is something that we should never do alone. No matter how strong your relationship is with God, you can still be tempted. We all can. If you don’t take other strong Christian friends with you when you hang out with non-Christians, then your defense against temptation will be weak.

It’s so much easier for people to pull us away from God than for us to pull them to God.

Take strong Christian friends with you, as Jesus took His disciples. Your strong Christian friends can keep you accountable for your words and actions and help you maintain your walk with God while you show God’s love to people who don’t yet see.

Matthew 10:16 – “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”

Written by Jenn Arman

Image: Creatas | Thinkstock

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65 Comments

  1. Project Inspired

    Posted by Cici on June 11, 2012 at 07:30

    I have about 6 BFFs and it kind of goes like this…
    1 is Hindu
    1 is Jewish
    1 is Catholic
    1 is Christian
    2 are agnostic
    It’s really difficult because some of my closest friends don’t even accept my beliefs. 🙁 I only have ONE friend I can talk about Jesus to without getting the silent treatment. I have seen groups of best friends who are all Christian at my school and it makes me sad. Why couldn’t I have become friends with them instead? Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, and I can’t just DITCH them. We have grown so close, but it is tearing me apart from God. Any advice, Nicole? Or anybody else?

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by miniaturebelle on April 23, 2014 at 21:00

      Hey Cici!
      That’s so nice of you that you don’t want to ditch your friends! I am in a similar situation, with only one close friend with whom I can talk about Jesus with. One thing that I have learned is to integrate your church habits into conversation. For example, when you talk to your friends about your weekend, just say, “On Saturday, I did___ , on Sunday, I went to church and ___”. That way, you casually mention church, and your friends will slowly accept that God is a part of your life. Also, if you feel that these friends are tearing you apart from God, you can try to make friends with the other Christian people and still be friends with your non-Christian friends. Hope that helps! 🙂

  2. Project Inspired

    Posted by Kathrie on December 14, 2011 at 16:25

    I have a few friends who are non Christians and they are very important to me. We’re really close and lately I’ve been wondering what it would be like after we die and they don’t go to heaven with me. Thinking about it makes me really sad and I really, really want them to go to heaven too. What do I do??? 🙁

  3. hlaluvzjesus

    Posted by hlaluvzjesus on November 17, 2011 at 06:31

    what is the difference between catholic and christian?

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by Kathrie on December 14, 2011 at 16:26

      Nothing. Catholic is a form of Christianity, just like Lutheran.

  4. Posted by on October 22, 2011 at 18:08

    i understand the point, but religion shouldn’t stop friendship. justpray for them and don’t shove religion down their throast.

  5. Posted by on October 17, 2011 at 12:49

    I’m Catholic and have several friends who are Christians, but one of my friends(whose family is Catholic) doesnt believe in the teachings of the church and now she is saying that she doesnt believe in many Christian teachings as well, I have been trying to help her come to Christ but she mocks me and becomes very disagreeable…what should I do to help her? Anyone have any advice?

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by Kathrie on December 14, 2011 at 16:35

      I also wanted to share a story with you that my mom told me about her friend. Her friend, kinda like your friend, started to doubt christian teachings too. She cried out to God everyday, “Lord, give me a sign to show that you are there!” She even posted it on Facebook everyday. This lasted for maybe a month or more. One day, she was so sad that she marched outside onto her front lawn and yelled out loud, “Give me a sign, God!” Immediately, a robin flew down and landed a few feet in front of her and stared up at her for a while. I promise, this is a true story. With all my heart I promise that I am not making this up and I know with all my heart that my mom didn’t either. We are both very Christian. Maybe you should tell this story to your friend?

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by Kathrie on December 14, 2011 at 16:29

      Sometimes, people look at what the bible says, and then look at what science says. They do seem very different at times and sometimes people tend to look to what science says because it seems to have more visible proof. Maybe that’s why she doesn’t believe? I think of science as kinda the study of how God’s world works.

  6. Posted by on October 11, 2011 at 22:08

    So you can’t hang out with a Hindu just the both of you? You have to take an army or christians with you? That’s only a tad bit overdone, no?

  7. Posted by on September 25, 2011 at 16:41

    I have a question:If that’s true then… what do we do with the verses commanding us to be separate from unbelievers/sinful people? God bless and thanks.

  8. Posted by on September 15, 2011 at 04:36

    Hey I think you shuld still be friends with them…even if they aren’t Christians….You can witness to them dont just give up on them keep trying…

  9. Posted by on September 10, 2011 at 12:04

    i have a friend who is buddhist. she isnt a very strong buddhist (she wont try to convert me or anything) but i always feel weird around her. i know god wants me to convert her and i hate to think of her one day in hell because shes so nice and hasnt done anything really sinful except occasionally lies like everyone does and steels food from her own kitchen (everyone does that!) and of course doesnt worship god and all that stuff. so i guess she is kinda sinful. i never see her anymore, and i really want to. i would like to tell her the truth but i feel like shell get mad at me!

    • Posted by Nicole on September 10, 2011 at 13:17

      keep praying for her, and share how God has changed your life. Try and watch the Passion of the Christ together. 🙂 And explain how Christ died on the cross for everyones sin. Ask her why she’s buddhist. Does she believe in a supreme being? (God) or she worships Buddha completely? I believe Buddha was just an inspirational man, and teacher. BUt he is no God. I’m sorry I hope this helps!

      • Posted by on October 12, 2011 at 20:38

        i agree with Jake. Hypocrisy is running through your veins

      • Posted by on September 24, 2011 at 13:30

        *UMM! Buddah is the buddhist GOD. You say it’s all cool for people to believe in their version of god, and then you go and condemn buddhusts and muslims!

  10. Posted by on September 9, 2011 at 23:24

    My best friend outwardly states that she’s not a Christian. She says she believes in God, but I think she just says that for my sake. I’m pretty sure, if we weren’t best friends, she might be a Atheist. I’ve tried numorous times to get her to come to church with me but she refuses. Sometimes she’ll come to youth group, but I can tell it doesn’t affect her whatsoever, and it’s sad. I’m torn…

    • Project Inspired

      Posted by miniaturebelle on April 23, 2014 at 21:05

      The best way for you to put God in her life is to be an example of Christ to her. One time in a sermon, I heard the pastor say, “We, as Christians, are the Bible that non-Christians read”. Even though it may seem like she is rejecting God, she is probably watching you (not to be creepy 🙂 ) to see how Christ has impacted your life. So through your actions, you can show her Christ’s love 🙂

  11. Posted by on September 9, 2011 at 19:45

    It’s generally a bad idea to preach to people. They believe their religion just as strongly as you do.

  12. Posted by on September 9, 2011 at 19:09

    Yes… God says to accept people and be diverse. I think its pretty ignorant to just be friends with catholic/christians

    • Posted by on September 15, 2011 at 04:39

      Como estas Amiga??

  13. Posted by on September 8, 2011 at 14:44

    People who say that Catholics aren’t Christian are extremely rude. It’s mean and hurtful to hear those things. I live for God and God alone. I love reading the Bible and growing closer to Jesus Christ. I am a proud and strong Catholic, and I pray for the Christians who don’t accept the Catholics. We are all sisters and brothers in Jesus, and we should focus on that only. Catholics love and serve the Lord each and everyday. I’m praying for all of you who said Catholics aren’t Christian, or who said Catholics beliefs aren’t Biblically based. May God bless all of you ♥

  14. Posted by on September 7, 2011 at 19:05

    And as for this Catholic/Christian thing. Catholics have a lot of traditions that other denominations don’t have, such as veneration of the saints, the Pope, etc. But the Catholic church is based on the Trinity–the same values that the rest of the Christian churches are based on. Therefore Catholicism is a form of Christianity.

  15. Posted by on September 7, 2011 at 19:04

    One of the lessons that I’ve learned the most in my life is that if you live your life as a light, people will notice! I’ve noticed that my non-Christian friends have never tried to pressure me to go to a party or whatever; I think this is because I give them the impression of not being for that kind of stuff. But I’m still their friend. A good Christian friend is often the difference between someone being saved and not getting saved. There is a huge gap between non-Christians and Christianity and Christians stand in that gap.

  16. Posted by on September 7, 2011 at 04:00

    “yoke” infers something stronger than just being friends.It means not being bound to someone. So I think it means it’s ok to be friends with someone but watch how close you are getting and make sure you dont get influenced by them. Being an Indian Christian, I know a lot Hindus. They aren’t bad people. They are just blinded to the truth. Try talking to her about God. Chances are she’s already questioning her religion. Most Hindus I kno kno that the religion doesnt make sense, but they follow it out of tradition

  17. Posted by on September 6, 2011 at 13:58

    Okay, how about being friends with a strong atheist? Is that okay?

    • Posted by Nicole on September 8, 2011 at 13:13

      yes- keep sharing the word of God with them, and being a light in your friendship. 🙂 They could come to God!

  18. Posted by on September 3, 2011 at 14:32

    Why do catholics baptize babies?

    • tmgaouette

      Posted by tmgaouette on September 3, 2011 at 17:31

      To cleanse them of original sin and to welcome them into the Catholic church with the parents’ promise to bring the child up Catholic. It’s part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church and many passages in the bible describe entire households being baptized, including infants.

  19. Posted by on September 3, 2011 at 13:31

    I think this is smart.

  20. Posted by on September 3, 2011 at 10:09

    I also have some hindu friends…they are nice people…to tell the thruth I don’t have strong christian friends…my christian friends have this bad habit of judging others…even me sumtyms…they know its wrong but they still do it…I hope God helps me…

  21. Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 21:00

    I can’t find anybody at my school who even talks about god… I feel so alone. I find myself tempted so much. My friend is Buddhist and she is going through a tough time. I’m praying for her.

  22. Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 20:38

    I had been telling one of my closest friends about God for two years before he finally started living for Christ.It was hard sometimes, but I am so thankful that he has now been changed by Jesus’ amazing love!!! Believers should ask God to use them to help their friends know Him. Also never lose hope that a friend will come to know God. This is a great article, thank you =)

  23. Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 20:35

    As my small group leader once told me because I have a friend who is a strong atheist, It’s okay to be friends with non-christians but keep your christian friends in your closest inner circle to constantly be surrounded by people who will strengthen your faith and encourage you.

  24. Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 18:11

    I live in a small town where we have a church per 200 people, roughly, and they’re all Christian churches, so to meet someone in this town that isn’t a Christian is a real shock. But it’s hard to find STRONG Christians here. Thanks for sharing this…it’s good to read it!! 🙂

  25. Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 16:21

    I saw this and read it. I completely agree that you need to be friends with non-believers. My friend is Atheist. I asked her to come to my youth group, and then one day, she actually did! After going that one time, She is now going to Rock The Light. A Christian concert. She hasn’t committed her life yet, but shes getting there.

    • Posted by Nicole on September 3, 2011 at 12:37

      that’s so wonderful!! Keep showing her the love God has for her, you CAN do it! God Bless you!

  26. Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 14:10

    my best friend’s boyfriend is an atheist, and she’s a christian. i didn’t like him at first, in fact, i always joked and told him i’d have to murder him lol…. but now i’ve actually grown kinda fond of him and im glad my friend is happy. he’s a nice guy and really cares for her…. is that a good or not so good situation? :/

    • Posted by on September 15, 2011 at 04:42

      Well, Olivia does she witness to him?

  27. Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 23:08

    i love jesus im friends with non-christians nd i tell them to believe in jesus nd pray cause without jesus or god we will not be here now..

  28. Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 21:29

    I know people are going to disagree, but I think it is okay, because as long as someone puts their faith in their version of God, then they are still a faithful person. I don’t want to force religion on anyone, and if they don’t convert, it’s fine to be friends with them. It is interesting to me to learn about different religions to understand why they do/don’t believe in our God.

    • Posted by on September 25, 2011 at 13:37

      Same God. Different names and beliefs about Him.

  29. Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 18:29

    Being a newer christian, i find that it is kinda hard to talk to other people about Jesus mostly because im afraid i wont know how to tell them so much about him and about God when im still just learing so much but its also hard because i dont have any christian friends so that makes it kinda hard as well but im sure ill make some christian friends along the way.

    • Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 20:54

      You don’t have to be afraid! God has given you a spirit of power, love, and a sound mind, not of fear (2 timothy) and you are the light in the darkness of the world because of your faith in Him =) It’s so awesome that you want to share Jesus with others! Pray and ask God how He can use you, and when you talk to people just share how much God has done for you and pray that God will work in their hearts, you don’t have to say anything fancy (in fact, the bible warns against using clever speech, because the powerful message of Jesus is what people should be drawn to(1st Corinthians 1)) =) Also see if you can talk to other believers, maybe through a church, about how to share Christ =) I will be praying for you =)

  30. Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 16:29

    Hi, I have a Hindu friend to so I read this. Thank you!! And isn’t Catholic christian? I’m Catholic and consider myself christian…

    • Posted by on September 16, 2011 at 20:49

      Catholics were the first Christians. A Christian is a follower of Jesus Christ. The other forms of Christianity (e.g. Baptist, Lutheran, Evangelist) broke off because they didn’t agree with some of the Catholic Church’s standings. If someone told you that you weren’t a Christian because you are a Catholic, they’re just ignorant about other religions.

    • Posted by Nicole on September 2, 2011 at 12:22

      yes Catholic is also Christian 🙂

  31. Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 13:21

    After all, If you never hang out with non-Christians how will you ever share God’s love with them?

  32. Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 12:49

    one of my closest friends is muslim PLEASE pray for her and keep her in your prayers! 🙂

  33. Posted by on August 31, 2011 at 20:17

    thanks for posting this, really good insight

  34. Posted by on August 31, 2011 at 19:23

    If we don’t befriend unbelievers,they might not ever come to christ.

    • Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 07:14

      That’s so true. 🙂

  35. Posted by on August 31, 2011 at 18:46

    wow, this was a good article

  36. Posted by on August 31, 2011 at 18:34

    Thanks I need to Hear that,some of my friends are not Christians But one quote I have in Mind.”Don’t let your non-christian friend influence you to do things you don’t want to do”.I have Christians friends and non Christians but I don’t call my non-christian friends sinners or look down on them for their mistakes,But my non-Christians friends know that If they need help or anything they can come to me. I don’t think Jesus want us to look down on people but to love people Just like Jesus did.No one isn’t perfect the Only person who is Perfect and Holy is in Heaven so Look straight to the cross.But look in John 8:1-11 it helps me sometimes

  37. Posted by on August 31, 2011 at 16:53

    One of my best friends isn’t christian, her family is catholic nd sometimes when she’s going through a bad time I tell her to pray, nd she tells me she does sometimes, she accepts my christianity, but hopefully one day I can show her how amazing Jesus is! 🙂

    • Posted by on September 29, 2011 at 16:34

      Catholics do believe in Christ, but Jews don’t… Are you sure she isn’t Jewish?

    • Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 21:29

      catholic is a type of christianity, it just has some different rules.

      • Posted by on September 5, 2011 at 18:19

        Addy ~ I’m Catholic and, yes I believe in Jesus Christ my Savior. As Catholics we are Christian and our beliefs ARE from the Bible. It’s very offensive when people say things like that.

      • Posted by on September 2, 2011 at 14:10

        well some people consider it Christianity, but a lot of their beliefs aren’t Biblicaly based etc.

    • tmgaouette

      Posted by tmgaouette on September 1, 2011 at 07:36

      Are you saying she’s not Christian because she’s Catholic or that she is not Christian even though her family is Catholic? It case it’s the former, Catholics were the first Christians, so Christianity and its many denominations, derived from Catholicism. The Catholic creed states that they believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, who suffered, died, and was buried, which is the belief that brings all Christians together. There are a number of denominations within the Christian faith besides Catholicism, such as Protestants, Baptists, Methodists, and Born Again Christians.

      • Project Inspired

        Posted by nila_batnilla on May 8, 2012 at 22:52

        Catholics break one of the 10 commandments which is to not have any other Gods. They (Catholics) worship false idols.

    • Posted by on September 1, 2011 at 07:14

      I’m Catholic. Catholic is Christian isn’t it?