Conversation Starters

What should we do when our non-Christian friends can’t relate to us anymore?

One of the most common things that happens to us when we turn to God is that our friends have a hard time relating to us like they used to.

How do we know when to turn away and when to hold on in the hope that we can bring them to God?

ET Phone Heaven

Let’s face it, the closer we get to God, the farther away we get from the world and the things it guides us towards

1 Peter 2:11
Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul

Romans 12:2
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will

As we mature as Christians, we don’t talk the same way, do the same things, listen to the same music, and are generally interested in spiritually minded things that most people outside of Christianity are not able, or willing, to relate to

Even though this process is amazing, it is easy to underestimate how this transformation can create distance between us and our non-Christian friends–the very people we want to see come to God!

Be Aware Of Perception

No matter what amazing benefits we experience through our relationship with God, we must keep in mind that the notion of Christianity, or God in general, can sometimes be a lot less accessible to our friends than we might think

For example, if someone was raised without any sort of religious influences, the idea of God might not make a lot of sense to them

Or, they may have been raised around a different religion, or maybe they are atheists–all things that we need to be aware of when speaking about our relationship with God

It is also important to be aware that people often look at Christianity with a sense of disregard as it is well known for hypocrites, close mindedness, over zealous evangelists, and “rules” that restrict people’s lives

Also, depending on someone’s exposure to Christianity, they may or may not have a pre-conceived idea of what Christianity is all about, so it is best to present the most positive, sincere, accessible, and completely genuine message that relates to us (the person they know and are friends with!)

As people always respond to sincere passion, when we communicate with people around us with honesty, and in a way that is clear we are not just repeating things we heard on Sunday, it is much more likely that people will listen to what we have to say and ignore any negative perspective they may have about Christianity–sharing the gospel is the ultimate goal that we have, so this is really important!

Knowing Where To Plant Seeds

As with any group of friends, it is natural that the level of intimacy varies from person to person

We are often closer to some of our friends than others, and not necessarily for negative reasons, it could just be that someone understands a part of our personality that others don’t quite “get” or maybe they have gone through similar things in life as we have

Whatever the reason, it is usually easier to talk openly with the friends that we are already close and vulnerable with as we will have the best opportunity to start the conversation from a place of trust and mutual respect

Most of all, don’t be afraid to talk about God!

Just make sure to do it in a way that isn’t preachy, judgmental or weird–remember that if people do not understand why you are different, they will just feel alienated because your behavior changed without any explanation beyond you having “found religion”

Who wouldn’t find that weird?

However, there will always be times when no matter what steps we take or how well presented our points are, we will need to evaluate whether our efforts to reach some of our friends, no matter how close, is worth the effort

Knowing When To Walk Away, And When To Run

Okay, first thing, always pray for your unsaved friends, that is the number one thing

Second, we need to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is going to become a Christian, no matter how much we may want them to, or how hard we try

Third, we have to accept that some of our friends might turn away from us because of our relationship with God

This can be really painful, but it is a reality that we must be prepared to accept

Jesus gave very specific instructions about not speaking to the wrong people as they will try to tear down what we hold dear, and then look at us negatively for sharing in the first place. In this same way, Jesus also instructed us to not spend time trying to share the gospel with people who are not interested in listening

Matthew 7:6
“Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and then turn and tear you to pieces”

Matthew 10:14
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town

Us Against The World

When Jesus sent out the twelve apostles, he told them very clearly that, in the process of seeking to bring people to God, we are to be very strategic, be aware of those who would slander us, and that we must live pure lives that are above criticism

There is really no better advice than this!

Matthew 10:16
I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves

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  • I should count myself lucky in this department. I’d already broken away from most of my really secular friends before I found Christ again, and most of the new friends I’ve been making are in the Church. I was even blessed to find that a couple of my dearest friends, whom I have kept on board, were both Christian and hadn’t discussed it with me while I went through my virulent atheist phase, but were glad to see the change that God had brought on me. They showed patience and discretion, and prayed for me (as did my family, I’ve discovered), and it paid off in the end. The best thing that one did was to, instead of trying to proselytize, just gently nudge me to think in new, better directions from time to time. And then when I finally came to her seeking answers, she didn’t preach (she’s actually remarkably cagey), she just referred me to Ecclesiastes and trusted that if I was thirsty for knowledge, I wouldn’t need the water of life forced down my throat.

    Now, me liking to argue so much, it’s hard to follow that example (maybe it’s a guy thing). But it’s so easy to forget that we can win arguments and lose friends. Which means we win nothing–the argument’s already won. Reality is reality, it isn’t as though our debate will determine an outcome… apart from the course of the other party’s life. If I’d been preached at, in my pride, arrogance, and stubbornness, it would have hardened my heart even further. In a way, holding back the pearls, keeping a little mystery, making me work for it, proved to be all the better incentive to learn. Of course, that’s for someone with my makeup, I guess it’s always a little different. But much like with any other kind of love, it means a bit more if it isn’t profligate.

    Of course, another thing that makes it hard these days is the overwhelming influence of the secular. Not just on morals, but on paradigm. Like Plato’s man in the cave, watching the shadows on the wall, a lot of our friends are going to be so enmeshed in a worldview that is secularized and neutered of all meaning, and thus we wind up trying to talk to someone who, quite literally, doesn’t live in the same reality that we do. When you hit that wall, it’s pearls before swine indeed.

    • Hi Bennett,

      That is really awesome to have close friends that were Christians, it is funny how tactful we have to be sometimes when people around us are on a quest for discovery or are in outright opposition of the truth

      Ecclesiastes is hilarious (an ironic statement, I know!), it is the most emo book in the Bible, and it has a lot of answers for people looking to understand the “why” of life–everything is meaningless


      I have these discussions with an atheist friend who says that life should be lived from moment to moment, but in the end he is just as unhappy as he was before the “moments”

      When witnessing to people, the challenge is knowing the what and how to speak to others on an individual basis, as I tried hitting people with the Bible a few times but it didn’t have the intended results (odd)

      During the times when I was extremely rebellious, my mom stayed close as a friend but was always careful about telling me what to do as that would have spurned me in the totally opposite direction

      Later in life, when dwelling on how this was a necessary tactic for dealing with me, I realized this was an issue with my lack of trust for authority than me openly disagreeing with people

      This is a really common hurdle that the enemy hobbles people with at early stages of life, as once we don’t believe or trust authority, we get even more lost while trying to navigate on whatever version of what we call a compass depending where are at in life

      This happened to eve in the garden as the first thing that was attacked was her trust in God’s intentions, and she was given the suggestion to do things “her way”

      Genesis 3:1-5
      Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD
      God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not
      eat from any tree in the garden’?”

      The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the
      middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”
      “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

      Satan wanted Eve to think that God was holding back on her and that he didn’t want her to have something really good–this was done to erode her trust in him, and then of course, subsequently lose the desire to be obedient since she had been “wronged” in her mind

      This is a really common thing that still echoes today when people say “if God is so good, why does ______ happen”, this becomes an excuse to say that God either doesn’t exist or he isn’t someone worth following or listening to

      These are the toughest conversations to have with people I think

      • I had to laugh at that response to Ecclesiastes, because I think that was exactly what I said when I got done reading it, the first time. I’d expected something uplifting, or affirming, or deep, and instead it says everything is in vain. That if this life is it, then this life means squat. Nothing in the world is satisfying. Which is confounding in many ways, until you look deeper. I think people take it as depressing, and miss the real message–he’s talking about the world. The world isn’t satisfying. A mortal life isn’t satisfying. But as Christ says, wherever you store your treasure, that’s where your heart will be. If your treasure’s on earth, so’s your heart, mired in all this uselessness and vanity. Solomon hints at that, in his final admonishment to keep the commandments of God, for that is the whole of life, but sometimes I wonder if the whole thing wasn’t written subversively, in a way.

  • Sadly, I lost about 90%  of my friends because of my Faith. I don’t blame God at all, I think God is showing me who my real friends are. A lot of my old friends have changed, now they’re sleeping around, drinking, and doing drugs like the world’s going to end in 10 seconds. I’m also losing some Christian friends because they’re giving in to sin more then God’s Word.

    I came from a broken family. Thank God I didn’t turn up like either one of them AT ALL.

    Everyone is shocked about how I’m not angry all the time because of it. Hurt, yes. But not angry. I think it’s because I’m the only Christian in my household, also God taught me not be a link in that chain.

    • Hi Leah,

      I went through a period like that in grade eleven and twelve, a lot of my Christian friends started to drink, do drugs, and have sex as well, but the weirdest thing for me, was not that they were doing these things, but that they turned away from me as a friend in the process

      I have always been really non-judgmental with my friends, Christian or non-Christian, but I always asked people why they did what they did, because most of the time, especially growing up, they didn’t really know, they were just doing whatever it was without thinking it through

      But, as time went on, and they knew the things that they were doing were not the best, they just chose to push me out of their lives because they didn’t want to deal with it anymore

      This was them just pushing away any representation of their conscience and God’s guidance, which was disappointing for a lot of reasons and hurt as well

      The funny thing is, even after I have grown up, I still see people doing this to each other quite a bit as some of my wife’s friends are not very close with her because they think she is going to judge them

      My family was so bad, my mom was great, but she re-married a few times and I got exposed to some pretty brutal family environments in the processed

      There were times when she and I had some open discussions that were honest, but I was definitely coming from a place of frustration and anger, but in the end it turned out okay

      Do you face a lot of pressure in your home as a lone Christian, how did you come to know God, through your friends?

      I will keep you in prayer!

      • When I moved during the summer of 3rd grade, I met one of my now closest friends, her family used to be very religious and her mom didn’t like me at all. Once her family started to accept me they started bringing me to Church.

        But now it feels like my friends family is getting more ‘worldly’ while I’m trying to get closer with God, it’s frustrating that when I call her out on something she did (for example: if she says oh my g o d) she gets all offensive and says, “I said gosh” when she says God’s name in vain all the time.

        • Hi Ashley,

          Sometimes it isn’t easy when the people around us feel like they either don’t grow at the same speed or, in the worst cases, actually go backwards

          Do you have a lot of Christian friends?

          I had good Christian friends while I was growing up, but then when I was about eighteen or so, I lost contact with pretty much all of them, and now, sixteen years later, I still don’t have any that I hang around with


          Are there people in your life that you feel comfortable sharing God with that are your age, maybe there are more people in your church to start being around more if you are feeling weird?

          • I don’t have a lot of Christian friends, I only have about 3 but we’re close, but 2 of them are pulling away from their Faith because of the bad influences in our school.

          • Hi Ashley,

            I will continue to pray for you, but do not lose heart, life is a lot bigger than what we experience in our youth

            God is proud of every good decision you make that honors him, never lose sight of that!

  • I know this is a long time after you have written this, but thank you so much for doing so. It’s a relief to hear another Christian confirm that we can and should maintain friendships with non-christians. I actually started to tear up a little bit, because this has been weighing so heavily on my heart the past few months.

    I’m in my early 20’s, always labeled myself as “Christian” but never really thought about my faith or lived it out. My four best friends from middle/high school were always like sisters to me–we talked about everything and even though we were always different, we just “got” each other. In high school we were the shy, studious, inseparable group. In college we all became WAY more outgoing and care free. We drank. We partied. We took trips to Vegas. We dressed as sexily as possible and turned heads. We hooked up with boys (I didn’t have sex though). 

    In the year since we have all graduated from college, I found Jesus and became a completely different person. My idea of a “good time” has changed from getting drunk and partying to going out to dinner or maybe drinking a glass of wine and watching TV with someone I love. I have a boyfriend who is a believer, and I spend a lot of time with him. In short, I have changed in a very short period of time, and my friends haven’t changed nearly as much. In fact, two friends took up smoking and have even bought cocaine. One friend has had sexual partners that number in the double digits. They are good people and good friends, please believe me, but I don’t relate to these behaviors at all anymore!

    I’m not judging my friends for being so different, but it hurts that it is so much harder to relate to them now. We are all busy and when we do hang out, it somehow usually ends up being in the context of going out, which does not appeal to me AT ALL anymore. They are all atheists or agnostic, and I’m just so scared of candidly talking about stuff that comes up for me anymore. My faith is a huge part of my life now, but I wonder how could they ever “get” that? We were always such a huge support system for each other, but now I’m compartmentalizing my sisters from my Father, and it just feels wrong. I know I can find Christian friends, but I believe friends like the ones I already have only come around once in a lifetime. I pray for them every night, and I pray for guidance, but I feel the distance growing.

    • Hi Nora,

      It is nice to meet you, thank you for sharing with such honesty

      When we transition away from our old lives, some of the most difficult things we leave behind are the old friendships we had, but there can, and should, be a balance as I have never read we should reject every non-Christian friendship

      The main thing to guard against, is being influenced by people, rather than influencing them for God’s glory, as people often justify holding onto old ways by saying we should be in the world but not of it, then surrounding themselves with things they should not

      I am not saying that is your situation, but it is something to be mindful of

      Personally, I left behind a lot of friendships because the people were not helping me grow, and only wanted to do what we used to, or were Christians that did not live according to the truth of the gospel–not easy or fun in either case

      I hope you are able to speak freely about your relationship with God with your friends though, that is tremendously important

      I will pray you are able to connect with some good Christian friends as well

      Stay strong, and always look for opportunities to live the gospel in plain sight of all those around you!

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