Posts Tagged ‘mission’

Socializing With Our Non-Christian Friends

August 24, 2010

Patrick Mitchel is blogging his way through John Dickson’s book The Best Kept Secret of Christian Mission

In Patrick’s latest post, he notes Dickson’s point that believers should imitate Jesus and become a “friend of sinners”. As Dickson puts it, “Our entire life, including our social life, should demonstrate the Lord’s desire to have fellowship with sinners.” I.e., if we don’t socially interact with and have non-Christian friends how can we possibly engage in regular spiritual conversations? Thus, Dickson challenges believers: “is your social life orientated towards the good of others – being with them, befriending them, doing good to them and speaking to them about Christ when opportunity invites?”

This is a good question, but is there a straightforward answer? How specifically and practically should believers live out our social interaction with non-Christian friends (I don’t really like the contrast between “sinners” and “believers” – we all fall short and miss the mark, we’re all sinners). As I asked Patrick, should we go down the pub with our non-believing friends? Out to a club for a boogie? Only go to (more neutral?) restaurants/cafes? Only in peoples’ homes? It’s not always easy to decide where we draw the line on our social activities. Getting the balance right requires a lot of discernment and Christians will, no doubt, disagree about the options.

What do you think? Where do you draw the line and why?

Although this shouldn’t really need to be said, nonetheless, it is important that our friendships are authentic. To place yourself in the company of others with the ulterior and driving motive to convert them rather than genuinely being there as a friend is, at best, disingenuous. Moreover, your “friends” will see through such a deceptive ploy. Only when there is true relationship, when our friends know that we genuinely care for them, will we be best placed to engage in any gospel-based conversations that arise; conversations not sermons! In all things we should strive to be a locus of grace, reflecting the love and beauty of Christ.

It’s difficult to get this right. When something wonderful has happened in and to your life, you want to share it immediately with those you care most about, your family and friends. You want to tell them all about it, so that they too can share what you’ve found. Yet again, this is really tough. I’m sure we’ve all known bible-bashing bores. Their hearts are in the right place, but their application is misguided. Personally-speaking, I wish I’d the wisdom of Solomon to get these things right. 

What books/resources have helped you find the right balance? What do you recommend? How do you go about socializing with your non-Christian friends?

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