We Can't Be Friends with Everyone


The following question arrived a few days ago: “When it’s all said and done, is it impossible for Christians to form close, intimate (platonic) relationships with non-Christians? As I grow closer in my walk with God, I realize how little I have in common with the world. The Word of God is in me such that I cannot speak on any issue without drawing from a Biblical paradigm. I almost feel like ’friendship evangelism’ is a misnomer. Because in the end, we can never be true, intimate, long-term friends with an unbeliever AND be true to our beliefs. We end up butting heads and someone, usually the unbeliever, ends up walking away. It’s rather frustrating.” Here is my answer: It all depends on the circumstances. If you were in India you would be surrounded by Hindus, in Mali by Muslims, in Thailand by Buddhists. In those countries it may actually be possible to have closer relationships (though still not truly close, intimate friendships) because everyone knows “the rules of the game.” Hindus know they are not like Christians, and vice versa, so we don’t expect each other to look at life the same way. In those cases we can be reasonably good friends precisely because we know and respect the barriers that make intimate friendships impossible. That is, the Hindu, the Muslim, the Buddhist, and the Christian each see the “fences” that separate them. And seeing them, we respect them, and we can sometimes have a cordial, through-the-fence friendship. In secular, postmodern America, we want to pretend the fences don’t exist””or that they don’t matter. We downplay all convictions regarding ultimate truth, which muddies the water. It’s hard to have a “through-the-fence” friendship when one person pretends the fence isn’t there. We can be casual friends with many people, close friends with a smaller circle, and intimate friends with only a few people. By definition intimacy implies a shared way of looking at the world, which means that those relationships will tend to be with people who share our deepest values. Your faith will make it impossible to be close friends with certain people, but that’s not a bad thing. “Take up your cross and follow me,” Jesus said. Cross-bearing will never be popular with the people of the world. Many will ridicule, and even those who admire us do not understand us. Only other cross-bearers truly understand. We can have very close relationships with unbelievers who are open and even sympathetic to Christianity. But with some unbelievers that is not possible. That leads me to one final thought. Salvation is of the Lord. We came to Christ because the Holy Spirit drew us to Jesus. Our greatest weapon is prayer backed up by a godly life and a willingness to share Christ with others. And if anyone comes to Christ, it won’t be us who gets the credit.

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