How much time do you spend investing in relationships with unbelievers?
Historically, there have been some groups of Christians that have chosen to create their own exclusive communities to remain isolated from the “influence of the world”—people who choose not to be friends with people outside of their faith community.
In 1 Corinthians 5, the Apostle Paul offers us a different perspective…
I wrote you in my previous letter asking you not to associate with those who practice sexual immorality. Yet in no way was I referring to avoiding contact with unbelievers who are immoral, or greedy, or swindlers, or those who worship other gods—for that would mean you’d have to isolate yourself from the world entirely!1 Corinthians 5:9–10 (TPT)
Since Jesus called us to “go and tell” (Matthew 19:20) and to love as He has loved us (John 15:12), we should model His care and compassion for all people, believers and unbelievers alike.
And maybe, just maybe, it is our demonstration of the love of Christ for everyone that will inspire someone to want what we have. Maybe they’ll see the light of hope that comes from knowing and loving Jesus that will make them think that He might be able to give them hope as well.
“In the same way, there will be a glorious celebration in heaven over the rescue of one lost sinner who repents, comes back home, and returns to the fold—more so than for all the righteous people who never strayed away.”Luke 15:7 (TPT)
Rev always says, “I don’t want to do great things for God, I just want to be blessed to be in the vicinity when God does great things.”
By God’s grace, it just may be our decision to be friends with someone who does not yet believe that puts us in the vicinity where we can watch the Lord do something great!
A Prayer to Be Friends with People Who Don’t Believe
Precious Father, You clearly express Your love for everyone! Your Word defines You as love. (1 John 4:8) And Jesus said, “this is my command: Love each other deeply, as much as I have loved you” (John 15:12). It really is impossible for us to love too much.
Jesus poured out forgiveness and love on people the world identified as “sinners.”
Your Word says, “everyone has sinned, we all fall short of [Your] glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23) We need Your forgiveness and love. We need to know the truth about Jesus. Every one of us.
Please tender my heart and mind to see people as You do. Please help me love the way You love. Please help me open my heart to be friends with both people who know and love You and those who don’t yet. By Your grace, I would love to be in the vicinity when You work faith in my friend’s life.
May I shine Your light, proclaim Your promises, live for Your glory. I pray this all in Jesus’ name. Amen.
The Life Application Bible Notes challenge us, rather than pointing out the sin in those who are not yet believers . . . we are called to show them the amazing truth about Jesus.
But what about our friendships with other believers?
Paul had something to say about that as well…
It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning.1 Corinthians 5:12
And the LAB Notes add that when the church rationalizes sin, it “dims the image of God” and “distorts the picture of Christ,” and is not “fit to be a light to the world.” Rationalizing and justifying sin within the church is not God honoring, “Church leaders must be ready to correct, in love, for the sake of spiritual unity.”
I’ll admit, I don’t like to think about it but maintaining unity around the truth of God’s Word is God’s will.
We are called to welcome every sinner on the planet into the fellowship of believers without expecting them to “clean up their act” before they walk through the doors. But we are also called to consistently show the blessings of living God’s way . . . of SEEKing His will, TRUSTing His promises, FOLLOWing His commands. When we don’t. When we put our stamp of approval on things God’s Word clearly calls sin we are denying His truth and ignoring the power of His grace, mercy, and love.
On today’s note write:
May I honor God by being friends with both believers and unbelievers.
May God bless you today as you think about your friendships and the ways you can touch lives with His love.
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