Should Christians Hang Out with Non-Christians
Recently a few friends of mine were discussing this topic on whether or not we should have Christian friends. Many of my friends grew up in Christian homes, grew up with Christian friends, and now attend a Christian School. If you are reading this article then maybe you too are struggling to wrap your mind around this idea. Maybe you yourself have non-Christian friends and are unsure what to do. The question that really challenged me the most was should we as Christians hang out with non-Christian friends and if so, is it possible to do so without changing our faith?
Growing up I came from a non-Christian background where many of the kids I knew lacked a belief in God. A lot of these kids went down dark paths (i.e., drugs and violence) and were influenced by much of the environment. Think back with me for a second, if you do so maybe even you can think of a time where you witnessed this yourself. Maybe you know someone. No matter what the case maybe we can all think of a time where culture and society challenged us to be something or someone we are not. It was at this moment I realized I had to start deciding, do I enjoy what these kids are doing? Do I enjoy where my life is headed? Or should I consider choosing a different path of life? You see, we ultimately have the choice to decide whether or not we want to stay with these groups of people and allow their actions to dictate ours or we can go our separate ways.
My question is, should we hang out with them or not? Recently I came across an article that helped me wrestle with this idea. Throughout this article it discusses how much God cares for us and the people we associate with. However, he challenges us to reach those that are far from God (Matthew 28:18–20). You see, who are we to think we are better than someone else? Who are we to compare ourselves to others? In my mind this is foolish. Because of the fall we are all born sinful and in need of a savior. Ultimately, we are all in need of the love of Christ and if we avoid non-Christians, how will they get to experience it (Romans 5:8)? Maybe you are a Christian, maybe you are not. Regardless where you stand it is important to note God still loves everyone equally.  Therefore, I believe it is important to listen to God’s calling and strive to be like Peter. Peter was a man after God’s own heart. He was willing to go where he wouldn’t normally go and God used him to bring people to Jesus. You see when I was growing up I too was needy, lost, broken, confused. I too was disconnected from people but luckily I had Christian friends who stuck by me and invested in me when they were given the chance.
Can you think of a time when you were like this? Lost, broken, hurt, confused, disconnected? I know I surely can. If it wasn’t for my Christian friends I am unsure where I would be today. I am unsure I would have ever gotten the time to experience Jesus. Well you might be saying “I can’t be friends with someone who does (fill in the blank).” Why not? For me I see this as an opportunity to be a positive influence on the lives of people who truly need it. If we look to Jesus we begin to see how he spent a lot of time investing in ‘sinners’. Why did he do this? If you turn in your Bibles to Matthew 9:9–13 you will find Jesus hanging out with sinners. If you look down to verses 12–13 you will see Jesus make a statement “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick… For I have not come to call the righteous but sinners”.  So you see, Jesus took the time to invest in the lives of sinners, He didn’t turn away from them and He wasn’t drawn to their actions.
So back to my question, should Christians hang out with non-Christians? Previously we looked into scripture to see what the Bible tells us, now I think it is important to wrestle with it a little bit. Let’s say you are hanging with a group of people who are participating in an activity you do not approve of (i.e., drinking or violence). Let’s say you are a Christian and against drinking but everyone you are with is drinking and having a good time. Would you find yourself drinking to fit in and make things less awkward? The way I see it, Christians are always going to face temptations in this world. We are always going to be attacked by Satan in many aspects of life. However, that is why I believe it is important to have a close relationship with Jesus Christ. Although I do not believe it is wrong to be friends with non-believers, I do believe it is important to take the time to consider our friendships. All throughout the book of Proverbs we see this constant wrestling of this idea. We read things such as “The righteous should choose his friends carefully, for the way of the wicked leads them astray” (12:26).  I believe if we are friends with a number of unbelievers that we can be dancing on ice. What I mean by this is, if we are not grounded in the truth of the Bible our walk might suffer.
Growing up I was new in my faith but continued to hang out with my old friends. This often challenged me to continue growing in my relationship with Christ. It made it rather difficult for me to not fall back into my old habits and my old ways. Can you think of a time when you worked really hard to better yourself but temptation got the upper hand? Surely there is a time or two in your life when you saw this, and if so, then you know exactly what it is I am talking about. You see I believe there is some good in hanging out with non-Christians as long as you are in a place where you can influence them, not the other way around. During that time period it would have probably been wise for me to part ways because I wasn’t growing. Instead, anytime I strived to talk about the power of Jesus I found myself having to water it down because I was fearful of offending them. Can you think of a time where you came across someone who made you feel similarly? What did you do?
“When we hung out I wasn’t being very Christ-like.”
This was a quote I recently read from an article on Christianity Today. This author spoke about trouble times when they came in contact with unbelievers. All though they tried to share their faith with them, they often found themselves coming up short in sharing their faith. Why could that be? Why does it seem when given the opportunities to share our faith we come up short? After a while this person finally decided to be blunt and tell this girl they couldn’t continue to be friends if they lived different lives.  Now this doesn’t always work for everyone but eventually this young lady became interested and began pursuing Christ.
Looking back at everything we discussed in this article, we have hopefully been challenged by a number of things. If we are believers we have been challenged to consider who we are hanging out with, how they influence us, and how we influence them. If we are non-believers we are challenged to consider God’s truth and are reminded of the love Christ has for each one of us. As Christians I think it is important to keep an accountability partner, not let ourselves become a part of this world, and more importantly, allow God’s light to shine through us in order to glorify Him. You see things in life are going to be challenging, friendships and relationships are going to be difficult, but I believe with the right support system, anything is possible.