Should a Christian have friends who are not believers?

Should a Christian have friends who are not believers?

Answer – Did Jesus have friends who were unbelievers?  One of the greatest lines that the Lord’s critics could come up with was really a reflection on what was good and honorable about His mission to seek and save the lost…


Luke 15:2  And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."


Balanced with this attitude of reaching out to sinners, eating and receiving them is the preservation not to be enticed by them to commit sinful acts.


Psalm 1:1  Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; (2) but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.


When a person is first saved, he may need to sever harmful relationships.  Negative personalities, partiers, drug users all can be powerful anchors that drag a person down into destructive patterns of living.  But after a time, a person becomes strong enough in his choices to be able to go back and try to help the former friends.  Such a relationship is similar to the demon-possessed man who wanted to follow Christ.


Mark 5:19  And he did not permit him but said to him, "Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."


More commonly, there exists a class of believers whose parents raised them in good homes where love was strong, finances were stable, vices were rare and living was wholesome.  This class of believers especially needs to intentionally find needy people and make them their friends with the goal of leading them to Christ.  What better way to demonstrate your Christianity? 


Here are four reasons why you need to form positive relationships unsaved friends.


1.     You will fulfill the Lord’s example.

Be like your Lord.  To him, serving meant far more than serving a meal to family on Sunday or at Christmas.  Being kind to lost people is exactly what he wants us to do.  Is your car too nice to pick up dirty kids to ride to Sunday school with you?  Is your dining room too nice to have visitors who are poor?  Is your time too valuable to lose on lost people?


Mark 10:45  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."


Luke 14:12-14 (12)  He said also to the man who had invited him, "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return and you be repaid.  (13)  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, (14)  and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just."


2.     You will maintain a proper perspective on the lost world.

Jesus said, “look”!  May we never fail to see what he sees.  Outside the village of Sychar near the well where he met the Samaritan woman, he saw physical wheat fields still far from being ready to be harvested, but perhaps he saw the white clothing of the villagers above the rows of immature wheat.


John 4:35  Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, then comes the harvest'? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.


The disciples learned a powerful lesson that day in the following verse:


John 4:27  Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you seek?" or, "Why are you talking with her?"


Instead of being caught in non-productive Christian debates, having a lost friend in need keeps us focused on the lost.  Our debates sound less important when we are busy with reaching the lost.  You have the discussions like these in your group: “Which Bible is best? What clothes to wear? What music is good? Which man is a better speaker?”


3.     Your prayer life will improve.

A burden for someone who is lost will keep you dependent on the Lord.  What better subject in prayer can one have than to mention the names of your Sunday school class?  The names of men at the jail you visit? The guys you play basketball with? Paul had a prayer for his own countrymen, the Jews.

Romans 10:1  Brothers, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.


4.     It helps the local church grow

Who is going to be part of the next generation of people at your church?  Is it just the young people who are in your families?  Why not get some new blood and invite the lost into your life and homes.  Give them the space they need to grow in Christ and the church will grow too.  Fulfill the great commission. 


A parable from Christ about unsaved friends 

An interesting, and difficult to interpret parable, is the story of the Dishonest Manager, or the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13).  The main point of the story is that something as misused and abused as money (translated “Mammon” in the KJV) can be used to buy friends. You can convert money, something temporary, into souls, which is eternal.


Luke 16:9  And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.  


 Warren Wiersbe (Be Compassionate, Be Courageous) in his commentary on Luke’s gospel gives the explanation on the parable this way:


 “The steward knew he would lose his job. He could not change the past, but he could prepare for the future. How? By making friends of his master’s creditors so that they would take him in when his master threw him out. Jesus did not commend the steward for robbing his master or for encouraging others to be dishonest. Jesus commended the man for his wise use of opportunity. He admonishes us to use our opportunities wisely (Luke 16:9). One of these days, life will end, and we will not be able to earn or use money. Therefore, while we have the opportunity, we must invest our money in “making friends” for the Lord. This means winning people to Christ who will one day welcome us to heaven. Our lives and our resources will one day end, so it behooves us to use them wisely.




Bad influences can ruin your life.  Don’t go after friends who will entice you to neglect God, reject his word and sin.  Instead, be strong in the Lord’s ways and seek to help others who are lost by forming relationships with them that will help them see what Christ did for them at the Cross.

Shad David Sluiter