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10 Ways to Keep Non-Christian Friends Close

Here are 10 practical ways to build strong relationships with non-Christian friends.

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Cathy and I met over 20 years ago. We were both newlyweds and our husbands worked together. Soon, we became friends too. Cathy and I started carpooling to work and as couples, we spent weekends watching each other’s home movies, playing games, and visiting nearby parks.

When we both moved to separate parts of the world, we continued to keep in touch. Over the years, we’ve spent holidays and short vacations with each other. We have a lot in common except for one thing: I’m a Christian and Cathy isn’t.

Many times Cathy has questioned my faith. In the beginning, she seemed somewhat defensive. But as the years progress, she’s opening up more to me. God’s given me opportunities to share some timely words with her and Cathy has asked with interest why my life is different than her other friends.

Jamie, a past co-worker, grew up in the church. Yet, she felt misunderstood after being met with suspicion by some because of her exotic appearance. This caused her to withdrawal from any type of church setting.

She wasn’t thrilled when we were first introduced, especially when she learned my husband was a pastor. Immediately, the walls seemed to go up between us. At first, it made me upset that she’d prejudge me, grouping me with others who’d hurt her in the past. Slowly after spending time working together, God brought down some of the walls and allowed us to develop a friendship.

Jesus’ Representatives

When Jesus was on earth, most of His friends weren’t believers. Yet, He influenced them with such impact, they came to believe that God loved them too.

I’ve been learning that when God brings people into my life, they are in it for a purpose. Jesus still wants to influence lives and because we are representing Him on earth, He wants to do it through us. He’s expecting us to be His voice, His hands, and His feet.

Of course, I’ve also learned to make sure that I am having a greater influence on them, than they are having on me. If I start to be tempted to compromise my faith to accommodate our friendship, then it’s a red flag that I’m the one being influenced.

Building Strong Relationships

10 Ways to Keep Non-Christian Friends CloseIt’s been through my friendships with Cathy and Jamie that I’ve learned practical ways to build strong relationships with my non-Christian friends.

1. Seek Wisdom

Ask God how to be a friend to them. Search Scripture for ways in which Jesus demonstrated this while on earth. He helped Simon Peter fish (Luke 5:1 11), provided wine for a friend’s wedding (John 2:1-12), visited a friend’s sick relative (Matthew 8:14-15), and treated His friends to a meal (Matthew 14:13-21).

2. Be Ready to Pray

Pray for your friends and also offer to pray with them, so they hear your prayers. God sometimes works through the words of our prayers to touch their hearts. For example, one day Jamie kept mentioning at work that she had a headache. I sensed the Holy Spirit not only wanted me to tell her I would pray for her, but also offer to pray with her. Since she’d been somewhat hostile to me, I asked Him if He was sure about me praying with her. Couldn’t I just pray for her silently? But the Holy Spirit keeping tugging at my heart that He wanted Jamie to hear my prayer. After fighting against my own resistance, I made my way to her desk and quietly asked if I could pray with her. Immediately, a warm smile crossed her face and she said, "Yes."

It was a very simple, quick, and ineloquent prayer. I returned to my desk feeling a little shaky, believing that whatever God wanted to do in her life was not dependent on my prayer ability. About an hour later, Jamie told me and others around her, that after the prayer, her headache had gone. God worked through the prayer to touch Jamie, dissolve unfriendly feelings between us, and replace them with a warm friendship.

3. Practice Acceptance

Accept your friend the way she is now and don’t try to change her. Ask God to give you a glimpse of her through His eyes.

4. Speak encouragement

Choose to speak encouraging words and avoid criticizing her lifestyle and actions. Wait until she asks you your opinion and then answer gently, based on what you know Scripture says about it. If you aren’t sure, tell her so and search the Bible for God’s opinion.

5. Offer Unconditional Love

If she tells you something shocking, don’t turn away from her. Be supportive as a friend who loves at all times and build trust with her.

6. Be Honest

Share what you believe and what activities you feel comfortable participating in with her. Don’t feel pressured to go someplace that compromises your relationship with Christ. Try suggesting alternatives instead of criticizing. One time, Cathy and her husband invited us over to their house and decided to rent a film to watch together. Because we have different standards in our film choices, I sent my husband with Cathy’s husband to pick out the movie and gently help guide his selection.

7. Answer with Gentleness

When a friend asks a specific question about faith or what the Bible says about the situation, answer truthfully in a gentle and wise way. Don’t push your opinions. Rather answer simply and be open to dialogue with her. Don’t become defensive, but as Colossians 4:5-6 says, "Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned, as it were, with salt, so that you may know how you should respond to each person."

8. Be Open

Share ways that God is working in your life when the opportunity arises. Don’t assume that just because she doesn’t go to church, that she’s not interested in spiritual things. Openly live your life in Christ. Don’t try to judge whose heart is open and whose is not.

9. Extend invitations

Invite her to visit your church, attend a Christian concert, or to other activities that God can use to draw her to close to Him. Don’t be afraid to include her in your activities and introduce her to other Christians, who will also be accepting of her.

For those friends, like Cathy, who end up living at a distance, ways to keep them close include:

  • Remember special days with cards, phone calls, or thoughtful gifts.
  • Call occasionally to see how she’s doing.
  • Write letters and mention what God’s doing in your life.
  • Build memories together by planning special times to get together. One Christmas our family drove to Cathy’s home for the holidays. Since she and her husband knew we attended church, they thoughtfully chose a local church and took us there on Sunday. Another time, we met halfway and spent the weekend together. We went to an amusement park and a movie. We still talk about the fun we shared on that reunion.
  • When Cathy and her husband went through a difficult time, we called often and asked if we could pray with them. They accepted and it brought us closer together.

10. Don’t Give Up!

Cathy recently told me that it’s comforting to have me as a friend because she believes I’ll always be there for her. She knows she can count on me. Her words made me realize that God’s using our friendship as an example of His faithfulness.

Jamie told me after a couple years of friendship that she liked my outlook on life and how I didn’t condemn her, but instead listened to her and offered encouragement. Through our friendship, God’s unconditional love for Jamie was being communicated to her.

Romans 2:4 says, "It’s the kindness of God that leads to repentance." Asking God to show me how to keep close to my non-Christian friends has changed my life. Instead of being on the defensive or trying to force my faith on them, I’ve learned to rely on God’s leading and His gentle ways.

And, when it comes to praying for their salvation over the years, I’ve adopted Winston Churchill’s famous words: "Never give up!"

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Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters and serves as associate editor of Ungrind. Her writing has been published in numerous publications including Focus on the Family Magazine, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, KirkCameron.com, Start Marriage Right, Growthrac, and more! She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University with experience in broadcast media and also serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.

3 Comments
  • Brandy H

    This is great advice. My very best friend and I went to high school together. After graduation, our lives went in different directions. By the time we became re-aquainted, 10 years later, I was married with 3 kids and she had 1 child and in the early stages of divorce. About 2 years after we reconnected, my husband and I rededicated our lives to the Lord. I promise you, I used each and every one of the advice/tips you mentioned above. It took about 4 years, but my friend eventually gave her heart to the Lord.

    • Lynette

      Brandy,
      my sincere apologies for this delayed response. Thanks so much for your
      encouragement Wonderful to hear how the Lord worked through your life to reach
      your friend.

    • Lynette

      Thanks so much, Brandy, for your
      encouragement. My sincere apologies for the delayed response. Wonderful to hear how the Lord worked through your life to reach
      your friend.

Articles

When Doing Justly, Loving Mercy, and Walking Humbly Stand at Odds

If your compassion far exceeds your capacity, here’s one way you can be sure to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.

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One of my life verses is Micah 6:8, “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”

It is one of my favorite verses because my heart has been so moved by the love Jesus has for me and the sacrifice He made for me that I am grateful to have a way to express my gratitude through acts of justice and mercy while walking humbly with God.

I have found at times, however, the call to do justice and love mercy come in conflict with the call to walk humbly with God. For me, one of the ways to walk humbly with God is to recognize my limitations. I have to put skin to the fact that I am not God which means saying, “no” to ministry requests. It means going to sleep when I could be spending time advocating for the harrowed and helpless in the world. It means limited seats at my table, limited funds in my bank account, and limited energy in my body cannot be ignored but respected and adhered to.

This is hard for me at times, especially when I scroll my Facebook feed and see friends who are caring for their really sick children, spouse, or other family member all while millions of refugees flee war torn countries and babies are slaughtered by the hundreds each day in our country through the abortion industry.

As I scroll, I receive texts about one family member’s surgery gone wrong and another family member announcing a new baby is on the way. I have in mind my neighbor who has inpatient surgery scheduled this week and another neighbor who is trying to hold down a full-time job, care for twins all while battling profound “morning” sickness.

Folks at church are fighting for their lives in physical and spiritual ways, and strangers who pass me on the road are clearly battling something as demonstrated by their impatient honking because I won’t take a right turn on red. I want to meet the needs of all; I want to do justice and love mercy, but I’m daily confronted by the fact that I am so limited.

What am I to do when doing justly and/or loving mercy seem to come in conflict with walking humbly with my God?

God keeps bringing me to this answer: prayer.

God invites us to cast our cares before Him because He cares for us.
God tells us to be anxious for nothing BUT WITH PRAYER present our requests before Him.
God commands us to pray without ceasing.

And, when I walk humbly with God, I see the immense kindness in His command.
He gives us a way to do justly, love mercy WHILE walking humbly with Him.
It is by praying without ceasing.

I cannot take a meal or give money to every sick person or family I know. I cannot extend kindness to all my neighbors all at the same time they’re in need nor conjure up sustainable solutions for the refugee crisis and contact all the necessary world powers to make it happen.

I cannot heal all, but I know the Healer.

I cannot provide for all the needs, but I know the Provider.

I cannot rescue everyone in need, but I know the Rescuer.

I cannot comfort all the broken, but I know the Comforter.

I cannot speak peace over every situation, but I know the Prince of Peace.

I cannot be all to all, but I can go to the Great I Am through prayer, lay all the people, problems and pleas for help before the Omniscient and Omnipresent God of all Creation.

I can do this through prayer.

Recently, via an Instagram contest of all things, I came upon A–Z prayer cards designed by blogger/author/speaker, Amelia Rhodes. It is a simple concept packed with a powerful prayer punch. It has served me personally in this tension of wanting to do far more than I practically can do. It provides prayer prompts starting with each letter of the alphabet along with a scripture that coincides with the prayer focus. It ranges from Adoption to a creative “Zero Prejudice” for the letter “Z.”

The cards are well thought out, color printed on sturdy cardstock with blank lines for the user to write in the names of people and/or organizations that are personal to them.

If, like me, your compassion far exceeds your capacity, pick up a set of these prayer cards and unload your burdens onto a God whose competence matches His kindness, both boundless.

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Articles

Facing Our Fears in Motherhood

Do you have fears tied to motherhood? If so, here’s encouragement for you.

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“Are you scared?”

I was taken aback by his question. Scared? Of what?

“Of anything,” he answered.

I had just shared my due date with a new class of trainees.

“He has three boys,” another new hire volunteered. So fear is to be expected, I reasoned. I’m just about to face the most frightening experience in my life.

Of course I was scared.

I was scared…

  • I’ll lose my temper.
  • I’ll whine about sleepless nights.
  • I’ll breastfeed too often or not often enough.
  • I’ll leave piles of unfolded onesies in the middle of the nursery floor because I’m too tired (or lazy?) to fold teeny-tiny baby clothes for the upteenth time.
  • I’ll go with disposable diapers when the better choice would be cloth.
  • I’ll work too many long hours at the office and miss precious moments with her.
  • I’ll sign her up for too many activities and push her to become Miss Achieve-It-All.
  • I’ll pass on to her my ugly pride, self-righteousness, and perfectionism like a dreadful contagious disease.
  • I’ll miss countless little joys in life while pursuing worthless dreams.

Facing Our Fears in MotherhoodIn short… I was afraid I was going to fail miserably as a parent.

And now, holding my second-born daughter in my arms, thinking back on that brief exchange just a few years ago, I realize those fears were well-founded. I’ve failed many times. I’ve lost my temper. I’ve raised my voice. I’ve worked too much and played too little. I’ve seen my own sinfulness reflected in my daughter.

Yes, I’ve failed, but over and above it all, God’s grace has covered my parenting imperfections and made me run to the cross day after day. The writer of Proverbs puts it this way:

Whoever fears the LORD has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.
Proverbs 14:26

When it comes to fears, we have two choices: Will we fear the unknown or will we fear the Lord? Will we allow the uncertain to grip us in its clutch or will we turn to God’s Truth to set us free?

Scared? Oh yeah. There was so much to be scared of that day. And even now, if I’m completely honest, there are still fears nibbling at the edges of my consciousness. Fear that we won’t outgrow the temper tantrums. Fear that the two girls won’t get along. Fear that I’ll mess them up and cause them interminable hours on a psychologist’s couch.

I’m sure you have fears, too.

But rather than allow those fears to consume and paralyze us, we can take them to the Lord, acknowledging His sovereignty over our parenting, pleading His grace over our mistakes, and entrusting His provision over their futures. He is not only able to handle it all — He is far more capable to be trusted with it all.

If I say one thing to that frightened 9-month-pregnant me standing in that room years ago, I would say this: Don’t let fear rob today’s joy with tomorrow’s unknowns. Each day has enough worries of its own (Matthew 6:34).

Instead, let us keep seeking God, running to Him as our secure fortress and resting in the knowledge that He will care for us and our children one day at a time.

What are you scared of today? Name your fears and bring them to the Lord, allowing Him to replace them with His peace that passes all understanding.

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Articles

He Gives Shade To The Weary

If anxiety is a struggle for you right now, remember that He gives shade to the weary.

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Do you ever have those moments of fear because you don’t know what lies ahead? When do those thoughts tend to happen to you?

For me, most of those thoughts happen when I lay my head down to sleep at night. The vulnerability comes forth every time. That’s what happened the other night to me. I shut my eyes and immediately anxiety welled up inside me.

What if we don’t succeed in this new venture? What if we have to move? What if we can’t pay our bills?

I laid there with the covers drawn tight over my head (I still think that I am safer if the covers are over my head), praying scripture over my anxious heart. Assuring myself that God sees me and that He cares.

In the morning, I turned to Isaiah 41, specifically verses 10-20.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10, NASB)

Yesterday, the “what if’s” piled up as I anxiously looked about me. My daughter needs tutoring, however at this point in life, tutoring feels like a luxury we can’t afford. So I listed some items online to sell hoping to make just enough to cover the tutoring. I’m buying groceries on a Visa reward card. I’m holding my breath until the next paycheck comes. But what did God speak over me: Do not fear. Do not look anxiously about you.

“For I am the Lord your God, who upholds your right hand, Who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you men of Israel; I will help you,” declares the Lord, “and your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:13-14 NASB)

Why shouldn’t I be anxious? Because God will hold me up. God will help me. When I first read the word “worm” as a description, I took it as a slam against Israel. Like, gesh, God. What animal does He relate me to? But through further study, He calls them a worm because worms are helpless. They are viewed as insignificant, despised and weak. God will help me — seemingly insignificant, helpless me — because He is my Redeemer. He is my go’el — my next of kin. The Redeemer is the one who provides for all my needs. Rent. Car payment. Credit card bill. Gas. Food. Clothes. Debt. God will redeem.

He Gives Shade to the Weary

“Behold, I have made you a new, sharp threshing sledge with double edges; You will thresh the mountains and pulverize them, And will make the hills like chaff. You will winnow them, and the wind will carry them away, And the storm will scatter them; But you will rejoice in the Lord, You will glory in the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 41:15-16 NASB).

God is transforming me from a helpless one to a powerful one. The description of that type of threshing sledge is like a modern day earth mover. Powerful. Strong. Immovable.

“The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, And their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, As the God of Israel I will not forsake them.” (Isaiah 41:17, NASB)

He will come to our rescue. God, Himself, will answer you and me. Can you hear how personal that sounds? Have you ever pleaded with someone important whether your boss, public figure, or even a parent, and they responded to the need themselves? You expected for them to send their assistant, but instead they — the most important one — responded to you.

“I will open rivers on the bare heights And springs in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water And the dry land fountains of water. I will put the cedar in the wilderness, The acacia and the myrtle and the olive tree; I will place the juniper in the desert Together with the box tree and the cypress.” (Isaiah 41:18-19, NASB)

This passage describes the wilderness-like times in life. You are barren. You are thirsty. You are hot. You are in need. God will provide what you need. God will quench your thirst. He will provide shade when you are weary. During those times, God can provide in creative, innovative ways. He can provide something out of nothing. Doesn’t that give you great hope? Even when you can’t answer how He will do it, He is creative enough to figure it out even when the odds are stacked against you.

“That they may see and recognize, And consider and gain insight as well, That the hand of the Lord has done this, And the Holy One of Israel has created it.” (Isaiah 41:20 NASB).

God will do all of this so that His glory will be put on display. People — including yourself — will see that He is powerful.

So you can see how after a night of wrestling with fear and anxiety, reading this was like shade and water for my soul. God is a god who sees. And God is a god who acts on your behalf.

What do you need His help with today? What are you fearful about today? What keeps you awake at night? Where do you need some shade?

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Hi, I'm Ashleigh Slater, founder and editor of Ungrind. Here at Ungrind, it’s our goal to churn out biblically-based encouragement for women. We strive to be honest and transparent about our struggles in a way that inspires hope, faith, and perseverance.

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10 Ways to Keep Non-Christian Friends Close

by Lynette Kittle time to read: 5 min
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