This past Tuesday I attended our churches Leadership Dinner. The message our Pastor gave was full of questions we needed to ask ourselves. One of those questions resonated with me: Out of your inner circle of friends, how many of you have friends that are not Christian?
I sat and realized that I really don’t. Majority of my friends are Christian. I know some mom’s from the kids' school’s but most of them go to our church. I’m a stay-at-home mom that goes to bible study on Thursday mornings and gets the privilege to speak into other womens lives traveling the state. I’m surrounded by Christian fellowship!
Then on Friday, I received a call from my sister and along with some other things we discussed, we were talking about her wanting to start a bible study at her home using the Lioness Arising from Lisa Bevere (a MUST read!). The funny thing is she begins to ask me, how can she have a bible study when all her friends right now are not Christian. Ok…wait…WHAT??
See my sister and her husband started stepping away from church for awhile. I think it was 2 years. She and my brother-in-law were very involved in their previous church as youth assistants to over 300+ teens. They were a part of changing lives, impacting hearts, and supporting parents. When they left, it was hard for them to find a church. They were coming off filet mignon and were not going to settle for milk and cookies. As time went on, they began to find themselves building friendships with non-believers (spiritual lingo). Without going into more details for the sake of not losing you, the reader, they are at a place of wanting to get involved with the church they have been attending for the last month or two. I can only rejoice and continue to pray that God will continue to direct their path.
Here you have two different dynamics and each of us being challenged by God.
For me, I am challenged on how to build relationships with non-Christian friends and my sister is challenged to build relationships with friends that are Christian.
Would it be possible to have both?
Whose situation is easier?
10 Ways to Build Strong Relationships
1. Ask for wisdom. Ask God how to be a friend to them.
2. Speak encouragement. Choose to speak encouraging words and avoid criticizing her lifestyle and actions. Wait until she asks you your opinion and then answer gently, based on what you know Scripture says about it.
3. Practice acceptance. Accept your friend the way she is now and don't try to change her. Ask God to give you a glimpse of her through His eyes.
4. Offer unconditional love. If she tells you something shocking, don't turn away from her. Be supportive as a friend who loves at all times and build trust with her.
5. Answer with gentleness. When a friend asks a specific question about faith or what the Bible says about the situation, answer truthfully in a gentle and wise way. Don't push your opinions. Rather answer simply and be open to dialogue with her.
"Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:5-6
6. Be open. Share ways that God is working in your life when the opportunity arises. Don't assume that just because she doesn't go to church, that she's not interested in spiritual things. Openly live your life in Christ. Don't try to judge whose heart is open and whose is not.
7. Be ready to pray. Pray for your friends and also offer to pray with them, so they hear your prayers.
8. Be honest. Share what you believe and what activities you feel comfortable participating in with her. Don't feel pressured to go someplace that compromises your relationship with Christ. Try suggesting alternatives instead of criticizing.
9. Extend invitations. Invite her to visit your church or to other activities that God can use to draw her close to Him. Don't be afraid to include her in your activities and to introduce her to other Christians, who will also be accepting of her.
10. Don't Give Up! – Trust God’s leading.
"It's the kindness of God that leads to repentance." Romans 2:4
May we continue to walk in His love.