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How can I be friends with non-Christians

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How can I be friends with non-Christians and not be influenced by them? Samurai King, 15, KS


Shayna Answers:

Dear Samurai King,

You will always be influenced by your friends to some degree. The key is being aware of how your friends’ influence changes you.
 
Your friends’ influence is not always bad—for instance, when it builds your character and encourages you to be a better person. As you correctly point out, though, having friends that don’t have the same values can be problematic if you aren’t cautious.
 
Making friends with non-Christians requires being open-minded and finding common interests. You can always try to focus on the positive aspects of somebody’s personality.
 
Jesus said that people will be able to identify Christians by their love for others (John 13:35). Hebrews 10:24 encourages all of us to “spur one another on toward love and good deeds.” And Philippians 2:3 says: “Consider others better than yourselves.”
 
With these texts in mind  be choosy about the activities you participate in with your non-Christian friends. For example, you may choose to go to an NBA game with a friend who’s also an NBA fan. But if that same friend invites you to go to a party where you know there will be alcohol and pot, don’t choose to go.
 
First Peter 2:9 says that God has “chosen” you, and Romans 12:2 advises you not to “conform any longer to the pattern of this world.” So stand up for who you are, even if you’re the only person saying no to doing something.
 
Being friends with non-Christians requires you to be confident about who you are, what you believe, and what you are comfortable doing. You have to be brave enough to be “salt” and “light” amid others who don’t have your same values (Matthew 5:13-16). It also requires you to accept the possibility that at some point, your non-Christian friends may reject you for not conforming to their norm.
 
If you’re concerned that you’re not yet confident about who you are, what you believe, and what you feel comfortable doing,  the solution is simple: don’t hang out with non-Christian friends.
 
Usually you don’t have to do anything more than be firm about your beliefs and nonjudgmental about everyone else’s, and your friends will start asking you what you believe. Ultimately your friends will respect you for standing up for yourself, instead of being influenced by others.
 
It does take time and experience to develop your confidence and to be sure of what you believe. As you work on these things, keep in mind that most people think leadership and confidence are attractive qualities. They’re definitely qualities worth developing.
 
I think you’ll be surprised at how many people you can positively influence just by allowing them to watch you be strong and confident in God.


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