Sharing Our Faith with Our Unbelieving Friends
“One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.” (Proverbs 12:26)
“Have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)
I sometimes wonder that I never had a Christian friend when I was an unbeliever. Over the course of thirty-three years, I don’t remember being remotely friendly with any Christians, at school, work, volunteering, or in any other venue. It seems unlikely that there weren’t any Christians around me. Maybe I just blocked out some experiences, since I know I’ve blocked out some childhood family memories. In any case, the passages today have made me wonder because now it seems that all my friends are Christians. I have gone from one extreme to the other. Sometimes I call it being “in a bubble,” since the majority of people in the world are not Christians, but a mixture of other faiths, including humanism and atheism.
Believers in Jesus Christ have his righteousness imputed to us; this is the only true righteousness. So we must first accept that the righteous neighbor mentioned in the Proverbs 12:26 must be a believer, even though it appears in the Old Testament, before the incarnation of the Messiah. He whose faith is in God can and does guide others to have faith in God, by God’s power and sovereign will. However, those who are opposed to God (the wicked) also may lead the righteous away from the Lord. Proverbs contains a warning that is especially relevant for new Christians who are zealous about sharing the gospel at the drop of a hat. Young Christians who are passionate in their faith often intentionally associate with unbelievers to share their faith. But these friendships can quickly turn around, as those who reject Christ wield the power of their god, the Devil. (John 8:42-45) “Missionary dating” is not biblical; believers are to be joined to other believers. “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14) Wise Christians are cautious and watchful.
The dramatic language of Jude 22, to “snatch them out of the fire” is offset by the repetition of “mercy” in these verses. Above all, the compassion and forgiveness of the gospel is to be shown to unbelievers and believers who have gone astray (those who doubt). Jesus came into contact with many people and befriended unbelievers who then came to faith. So we also may be used by God to bring people to faith by what is known as “friendship evangelism.” Light is never overcome by darkness but dispels the shadows. (John 1:5) So we hate sin (in ourselves and others) while showing God’s love to sinners—whether they are Christians or non-Christians. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:12-15)
Will you pray with me that the Lord will give you friends who need Christ? Then will you share your faith with those who don’t believe?