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?
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:
- 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.
- 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