An Open Letter to My Non-Christian Friends
It is advised to not speak with friends about politics or religion. I want to break that rule, and I ask for your grace as I do it. It’s hard and not right for me to stay silent about the most important thing in my life. If I saw a fabulous movie, I would recommend it to you in a heart beat. I would hate that it is easier for me share a movie but not talk about the one thing that has transformed my life.
I know why we are told to avoid talking about religion. Religious conversations can be divisive. We have seen people, families and countries torn apart by religion. That saddens me. It doesn’t need to be that way.
Conversations about religion often end poorly, and I understand you may have been burned by people of faith in the past. I am so sorry for your experience. I hope it wouldn’t be that way if we sat down to chat.
Christianity is a faith for the sinful and broken. We Christians are going to mess up and make mistakes. Sometimes, Christians can come across as prideful and holier than thou.
In reality, a Christian should be the most humble individual you interact with. Our faith is based on the fact that we recognize that we are full of sin, we need a Savior, and we don’t have all the answers. That’s it.
I have had more than one friend say, “I couldn’t possibly step into church with you. The place would probably catch on fire.” Oh, friend, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. There are so many stories of Jesus loving and showing grace to those who felt they had not place with Him.
I want you to hear the stories about Jesus and his relationship with the corrupted tax collectors and prostitute. There was the woman at the well who had many husbands and was living with a man that wasn’t her husband. You will love the story about the woman that was going to be stoned for adultery and Jesus said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” – John 8:7 The Bible doesn’t teach that you have to be perfect to walk through the doors of a church. In fact, Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Did you know that Jesus often took on the “religious” and “holier than thou?” That means there should be no emphasis on being “good enough” before one enters the church. Christianity is actually the only religion that teaches that we don’t get to God by being good?
So, why does it feel like there is an emphasis on being good when it comes to Christians? We get in the way of ourselves. We like things that are measurable. Also, we want to follow Jesus who was all good. We are supposed to let His grace, forgiveness and love for us spill over into our lives so that we can be representatives of a good God. I am so sorry that we trip over our own feet while doing it and don’t get the right message across.
I want to be a friend and a Christian that you can come and be real with, no matter what you have to share. We may walk away with very little changed in our own minds about our beliefs, but hopefully we can walk away with a greater understanding about each other. How beautiful. I chose you as a friend because I know we are both mature adults who can have deeper conversations about life.
Sitting down with you wouldn’t be like a sermon. I want to hear what you believe. Understanding where you are coming from and your thoughts on religion would be life giving to me. I would love to hear about your journey as you think about faith, whether or not I say a word about my own story. It’s such a huge topic and it seems silly to avoid it with you. I don’t believe it will divide us. Bringing us closer together is the goal.
If this is so important to me, why has it been so hard to talk to you about this? I think many Christians (including me) are acutely aware of how people of faith can come across. It is hard to step out because we know that some people have a visceral reaction based on either previous experiences or how Christians may be displayed in the media. Admittedly, I also care too much about what others think of me. We cherish you as friends and fear that we may lose you by bringing up the topic of faith or inviting you to church, even if we do so in a respectful way.
The media doesn’t cover all of the work going on in the name of Christ – the people fed, the homes built, the children adopted or the lives changed. Unfortunately, Christians are more known for what we are against than what we are for. Both the media and ourselves are at fault for this.
I want you to know something about me. Faith doesn’t come easy for me. My faith in God has been a big journey with its own ups and downs. The questions you have are probably the same ones I have. The struggles you have with Christianity are probably the exact same ones that made me dismiss my childhood faith for a time. You would never come across stupid for asking a question or giving an opinion. I am interested in what you have to say on the topic of religion, even when we think differently. I don’t want to debate you; I want to know you more fully and want to be more fully known.
Friend, I am here for you. This is my open invitation to talk with me about faith. Whether we ever do discuss religion, I want to be Jesus to you. I’d love to be able to bring you a meal while you are sick, pray for you, take care of your kids or listen. Please let me know how I can best serve you.
Know that when I invite you to church or speak to you about faith it is out of love and care. I’m not judging you or think I’m better than you. I just want to be me with you, and I simply can’t separate my faith from who I am.
I love you, Friend.