True Friendship and Evangelism


(Carson Weitnauer) #1

Hi friends,

On Twitter, there is a trending hashtag #HowToBeEvangelical that is a snarky commentary on the hypocrisy within the (primarily white, US-based) evangelical movement. I’m not linking to it because some of the content is not appropriate for our forum. However, it is easy to find if you’d like, and it does raise some helpful questions of areas we need to see God’s transformation.

That said, here’s one tweet:

A question for discussion: what does it mean to be true friends with someone - and what does it mean to be friends with someone just because they are a ‘conversion project’? What advice would you give (to yourself or someone else) on how to better embody a spirit of agape love and true friendship?

(SeanO) #2

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art. . . . It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that gives value to survival.”
—C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I think friendship occurs when two people enjoy each others company. Like all relationships, it occurs when two people fulfill some type of need in the other’s life - for wisdom, fellowship or intellectual banter. And it ebbs and flows - comes and goes - with the seasons and changes of life.

The only time I see building relationships to reach people for Jesus as ‘bait and switch’ is when we give them something they need as long as they are interested in the Bible (like our time or attention) and then immediately deprive them as soon as they stop being interested in Christianity.

I think building true friendship requires both giving and receiving. We have something to offer the other person and they have something to offer us. If it is one way than it is difficult to build a real relationship.

We should strive not to communicate that we are only interested in people if they believe what we believe and yet also communicate through our words and actions our love for Christ - the incredible value of what we have received in Christ. I think that is a very hard balance to find - proclaiming without people feel they are being proselytized.

(Omar Rushlive Lozada Arellano) #3

Some things that I could think of what it means to be a true friend is that they have candor. They tell me truth because they love me enough that they want me to improve. They are not candid for the sake of hurting me, but the hurtful words they may say may hurt them as well, since they could empathize with me. They love at all times, they are not a “fair-weathered” friend, since that won’t be a true friend at all.

I agree with @SeanO that when we give people what they need as long as they are interested in the Bible, then we immediately deprive them of those needs if they stop being interested in Christianity, that it’s something about people just being conversion projects. I don’t call it “friend” in every sense of the term. Christians may not notice this outright, but it’s some form of being manipulative. That instead of using things, we use people. They become a means to an end.

The advice I would give to myself is for me to treat everyone the way I want to be treated. I should do my best to be a true friend to everyone. This does not mean that I will have everyone as friends. Some would distance themselves from me, but since I am being a true friend to everyone, it’s them who had lost a true friend. I lost people who are not real friends, which is good for me.

(Roy Bunger) #4

This is a difficult one for me. True friendship is vital, and I think it’s true that the majority of us only have a few true, close friends, over a lifetime.

I don’t think we ever want to make others into “projects”, as the tweet suggests. We need to take them and love them just as they are, which in one sense is just as God is introducing them to us, faults and all. And yes, we need to love and value them, even if they never (to our knowledge) embrace Christ.

For me, that has always left a sort of paradox. I have often been able to make acquaintances who are not believers, but have been unable to sustain the “acquaintanceship” (I hesitate to call it friendship) over time. There just never seemed to be enough common ground. Most of us are pulled in many directions, and there seem to be more “worthy” activities than spending a lot of time with people who are not openly interested in knowing Christ. But yet I’ve felt guilty about this, I’m at fault somewhere here, either in priorities or understanding, or both.

As always, may God guide us, day by day, in what activities (and relationships) we should pursue. There are probably no ‘rules’ which are set in stone, and which apply to all of us across the board [except what is written in Scripture, obviously.]

(SeanO) #5

@Momaziz I like the word you used - “acquaintanceship” - I think that very accurately describes many relationships where deep values are not shared. It just seems difficult to go deep because of the differing priorities of the two people and the nature of where those priorities lead you to spend your time and resources.

(Daniel) #6

this is so sad to see, the last thing anyone would want is to be a ‘conversion project’ it’s sounds like people are objects, like they are some kind of car that needs to be fixed, what’s the point of evangelising when the very purpose of love that God created us for is being violated? What are we evangelising about? How can you spread the message of love where the person is being treated like an object? This is overwhelming, the good news being twisted and portrayed as devastating news.