It may seem as though the closer you get to God, the more difficult it is to maintain friendships with non-believers. Friends may decide that you’re “too different” and may ultimately choose to end the friendship. The loss of a friendship can be quite disheartening, especially if you’ve been friends for a long time. This may leave you wondering if you have to give up all of your friendships with non-Christians.
When I first began drawing closer to God, I had similar experiences. Whenever I’d begin to speak of the goodness of God, eyes would roll and people would walk away. Many people struggled with my new Godly lifestyle and I lost some friendships as a result. It was very hard, but I learned several things from these experiences. I’d like to share a few tips that I picked up along my own journey:
- Accept that some friendships will change. Some friends will be able to handle your Godly transition but others will struggle with it. Not everyone is prepared to live a holy lifestyle and your own zest for God may make them feel uncomfortable. To prevent themselves from experiencing any emotional discomfort, they may choose to distance themselves from you. This isn’t a negative reflection on you–in fact, it’s the opposite. It shows that you’re shining your light for The Lord!
- Consider your own behavior. I had to learn that not everyone is at the same spiritual place as I am. Each person has his/her own spiritual race to run and it’s our job as believers to encourage them without being too critical. Sometimes friendships end because we’re unintentionally hurtful or offensive when others are engaging in behavior that we know isn’t Godly. We must learn how to witness with love so that friendships that can grow spiritually aren’t ended prematurely.
- Don’t compromise your beliefs! Sometimes we want to maintain friendships so much that we allow ourselves to behave in ungodly ways. If your friends are frequently engaged in inappropriate behavior and you find yourself being negatively affected by them, then it may be best to put them on your prayer list and put some distance between you. I know it’s hard, but sometimes it’s best to love others from afar.
- Make new friends. Try spending time engaged in activities that you enjoy where you’ll be around peers who share your beliefs. You’ll begin to build new friendships with people who are more like you. Of course, you can still talk to your old friends and definitely keep them in your prayers, but it’s important to surround yourself with people who share your spirituality.
Living for God in this physical realm sometimes can be painful, but this is what God tells us about our sacrifices:
And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life (Matthew 19:29).