Bible Reading: Luke 19:1-10
The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost. Luke 19:10, NIV
As Paul left the movie theater with some friends from his swim team, he almost crashed into another group of friends—boys from church. When Paul said hi to his church buddies, they hit him with a look of disgust that felt like a punch in the face. Paul shrugged and kept walking, puzzling over the weird looks. They couldn’t have been mad about the movie, he figured. They were in line to see the same thing. The more he thought about it, the more sure he was. It had to be who I was with.
Talk about it: Have you ever bumped into Christians who think it’s wrong to have good friends who aren’t Christians? Perhaps you feel that way. Is that the right way to think?
As a Christian you are to make the health, happiness, and growth of anyone and everyone within your reach as important to you as your own. When it comes to showing agape love, the Bible says, “Pay all your debts, except the debt of love for others. You can never finish paying that! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill all the requirements of God’s law” (Romans 13:8).
Christians who think it’s wrong to be good friends with unbelievers point to James 4:4. That verse says, “Don’t you realize that friendship with this world makes you an enemy of God?” But think hard about this: That verse warns against accepting the world’s attitudes and actions, not being friends with the world’s people.
And look at Jesus. He spent so much time among unbelievers that he was mocked as a friend of sinners (see Luke 15:2). His openness to outcasts like Zacchaeus was all part of his mission to seek and save people who are lost—who have not let Jesus find them and save them from sin (see Luke 19:10).
Jesus’ mission to save unbelievers gives us a huge clue about what’s right or wrong in the way we get along in the world. Here’s the test: If we can be friends with a non-Christian and help that person understand what it means to follow Christ, the relationship might be right. But if we get sucked into doing wrong things, we probably need to pick a different friend.
God wants you to be friends with non-Christian people in your world—at school or work, on sports teams, in your neighborhood, among your relatives. Without your friendship, they may never feel Christ’s real-life love. And without feeling that great love, they will have no reason to want to become friends with God.
TALK: What do you think about your Savior’s willingness to reach out to sinners? How can you imitate that?
PRAY: Lord, we pray that our love for the non-Christians in our life will lead them to a loving relationship with you.
ACT: Pick a non-Christian you think you can befriend in a positive way—and plan how to further your friendship.