I wasn’t born a Christian, so I experienced certain difficulties with my friendships when I first came to Christ.
I remember the first time I told my friends about my decision. I was nervous and afraid of what they’d think. There was always an unspoken agreement about Christians – they’re different.
While they didn’t shy away from me because of my newfound faith, I realised over the years that our worldviews had shifted. I soon found that it was easier to leave my differences aside, and focus on our similarities instead. So I began to hide my faith. “They won’t understand,” was what I reasoned to myself.
In fact, someone once told me that they couldn’t understand how Christians can say they have best friends outside of Church, but not in Church – the common ground Christians have between each other seem almost to dwarf the commonalities shared with friends of other faiths.
“The typical expression of opening Friendship would be something like, ‘What? You too? I thought I was the only one.'” (CS Lewis, The Four Loves)
For example, my mentor, who married earlier than her peers, told me that she’s been trying to befriend other young couples. As she has just became a mother, she needs a community of young parents to support her in this life station. Yet more important than our life transitions is our end destination.
If we’re attracted to people who are at similar stations of life, won’t we also naturally gravitate towards people who have the same faith?
While I drifted from my older friends, I grew closer to my friends in Church.
Having the same faith and same goals greatly strengthened our friendship. I trusted them to spur me towards Christ and they could relate to me whenever I shared my struggles in the faith.
It wasn’t until a big misunderstanding broke out between my former friends that I realised just how foreign the friendship had become. We had become familiar strangers through years of hiding and avoiding real topics.
We need friendships that can point us towards God – we need fellow pilgrims on this heavenward journey.
People always say that you are the sum total of the top 5 people you spend the most time with. And as Christians, our life should reflect our faith. So it’s important to have friends with the same faith who can encourage us in our walk with God.
But this doesn’t mean we cut off friends who aren’t Christian.
After the fallout with my friends, I began to see the importance of authentically sharing all aspects of my life with them. While they wouldn’t be able to give me a Biblical perspective on my problems, and they might not understand what I’m going through, at least we could have been real with each other.
Maybe it’s not the answers, but the journey that matters.
I began to understand that while our experiences may be different – emotions are universal. Loneliness, joy, anxiety … These aren’t exclusive to faith. So while my non-believing friends may not have the same values as I do, it doesn’t mean I should discount their perspectives on things.
That being said, there is wisdom in choosing who is able to speak into your life.
There are many types of friendships in life. In some friendships we give more than we take; in others we take more than we give. But we need friendships that can point us towards God – we need fellow pilgrims on this heavenward journey.
Jesus was a friend to the Gentiles, but He also had different circles of friends. Those who shared His vision, and were willing to advance His cause were part of the innermost circle in His life.
So how about us? Do the people who know the most intimate details of our lives the same ones who could spur us on our walk with God?
Different beliefs may lead to disagreement. But it shouldn’t mean I don’t connect with friends who don’t have the same faith as me.
If anything, it has taught me to love people in spite of our differences. For example, my friends bore grudges after the major fallout, and I had to press for reconciliation between the both of them.
Had it not been for the fact that I knew God desires reconciliation, I’m pretty sure I would have long given up on the friendship too. That would have been the end of a decade-long relationship.
I suppose that’s what Jesus meant when He said we are called to be in the world – but not of the world. At the end of the day, our faith shouldn’t arbitrarily draw us away from our friends in the world.
Our faith should draw all our friendships nearer to Christ.