If we claim to be following in Jesus’ footsteps, then why do we spend so much time with other Christians and so little with non-believers?
According to people in 4 different congregations I’ve served, the biggest obstacle to their evangelistic efforts is not fear of sharing the good news, or persecution, or laws. It is a lack of non-Christian relationships. For 22 years people have been telling me that their friends and family members, those with whom they would be able to have a deep conversation, are all fellow believers. We cheer churches that are tight knit and friendly, those with strong fellowship ministries, those where Christians can come and live life with other Christians. We worry when a youth group isn’t strong because our kids will have too many non-Christian friends and too few believing ones.
Yet the Pharisees’ primary complain about Jesus was that He spent so much time with “tax collectors and sinners”, non-believers. And His response to them and to us is, “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners.” Yes, Jesus focused on His 12 disciples, but His ministry was bringing them into contact with non-believers so they could share the good news about all He had done and promised.
What would happen if we decided to spend the majority of our intimate time with non-believers? What if our parties, our weekends, our holidays were spent with non-believing friends rather than fellow church-goers? How might that change our church? our lives? the Kingdom of God?