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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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How do I Reach my Peers?

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How do I reach out to someone my own age without offending them?—Anonymous, 14, ID


Shayna Answers:

Dear Anonymous,

Start by meeting your friend where he or she is. Judgment or harshness is what tends to be offensive, so focus on trying to build a friendship with this person. It’s hard to be friends with people who are different or condone behaviors that we never would, but befriending a person before they’ve given you any reason to is the very essence of Christian love (Romans 5:8). It also opens the door for you to influence them later.

When you’re friends with a person, you have to avoid giving them unrealistic expectations about their behavior. For example, your friend shouldn’t have to dress like Ellen White or go to a Christian concert just for you to be willing to spend time with them.

People make changes because of conviction, and  conviction is an individual thing that’s based on faith. And, behavorial changes are usually last to occur in the faith process. For that reason Romans 14:1-3 and 1 Corinthians 10:27 remind us that it’s OK for us not to be as strict with unbelievers as we are with ourselves. Acts 15:19 talks about the effort Paul and Barnabas made not to scare off the newly believing Gentiles when they first accepted Christ.

Living in a way that makes your character attractive is the final step in generating interest in the message about Christ that you have to share. For an unbelieving friend the only understanding of who Jesus Christ is comes from you! So be confident in yourself and your convictions. First Peter 3:15 says that you should always be prepared to give a response for the hope that you have. Why? Well, you might just be surprised at the questions your friend may start asking one day.

Even if your friend teases you about being a goody-goody (trust me, I’ve been there), when something really significant or scary happens, your friend will remember that you have a relationship with God and will come to you!

Ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who creates conviction in a person’s heart. So no matter what you do, the person you’re reaching out to has to be open to the Holy Spirit. You can help facilitate the process by praying for your friend. But also pray that the words you use and the activities you suggest will be the right ones to uplift your friend (Isaiah 51:16; Jeremiah 1:9).

Trying to reach out to someone can be difficult. Many of us feel like we’re not being effective witnesses if we’re not knocking on doors and bringing people into the church. But real conversion is a process that can take months or even years. So don’t be discouraged if your friend doesn’t come around immediately. Just know that he or she is noticing your influence and thinking about it.



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