Five foundational principles to transform your relationships with non-Christians.
1. Cultivate the value of caring.
Luke 10:25-37 —Many of us think we care for others because we have no animosity toward others. But Jesus knows better. He knows that caring is only proved in the willingness to sacrifice for others. We are all familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan but the pivotal interpretive clue for why Jesus told the parable is in verses 25-29, especially verse 29. Take a look. Real care is sacrificial and costly.
2. Emphasize Obedience.
Emphasize obedience in your own life and in the lives of those you equip. Basic, generous hospitality is not an issue of giftedness or talent, it is an issue of obedience. We are to consider others as more important than ourselves. Period. (Cf. Phil. 2:3)
3. Be Real.
Authenticity is a rare quality these days. Just be yourself. There is no need to be mushy or maudlin but there is a need to be genuinely concerned and caring. Neighbors respond with good favor when they are shown basic kindness. Retrieving a wind-tossed recycle bin, tomatoes from a garden, prayer offered for comfort when a loved one has died, shoveling a sidewalk or driveway, are all simple gestures but they open doors to greater things.
4. Be Boldly and Humbly Confident.
The two qualities are not mutually exclusive. We should be bold (and praying for boldness) all the time on the basis of the truth of the gospel. But we also should be saturated with humility. God saved us; we didn’t save ourselves. We have no claim to greatness. Humility is disarming. Care is disarming. Unashamed boldness coupled with humility is attractive.
5. Know that You Will be Ripped Off.
After having numerous homeless men stay in our home, I can tell you that not every situation has a happy ending. Getting ripped off or taken advantage of will happen. It’s part of the price of living for Jesus. But you will be surprised too by the generosity and thankfulness of some of those you seek to care for and reach for the sake of Christ.
People need, your neighbors need the gospel. They need you to love them enough to risk their rejection. They need you to love them enough to discomfort yourself so they might have the comfort of Christ forever.
Companion Post: How to Fall in Love with the people you are trying to reach
10 thoughts on “How to Get to Know Non-Christians”
This is good message. We have to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our neighbor can be any person within our vicinity like our enemies, strangers, believers, non-believers, relatives, friends, etc. Love is practical. love anybody within your vicinity as you love yourself. Love helps, cares, gives, etc.
May God bless your ministry Maimbolwa. Keep loving and caring for strangers in the name and power of Christ.
Thanks! I pray that God enables my willingness, strength and desire to do this and that I may do it in His Name through His power that only Him may be glorified. And that I should not be limited by man’s made boundaries whether through denominations or otherwise but that I should do that because of Him and for the Lord’s sake that I may not do all these things in vain by pleasing men and not God.
I have to be honest…I struggle deeply with the “getting ripped off” part. My question is when that person comes back for the next night and the next, how do you respond?
Me too! There are few genuine people that come pretending to be in need of help. For me, if one rips me off and comes back, there has to be convincing evidence that that person is now real or really needs help because there are millions of people out there that need help. If we are not careful and not sensitive to the Spirit of God and God-given wisdom we shall end up helping same people that do not really need help and end up leaving the people who are in real need. For me, if that person comes back after ripping me off, I will have to discuss with him and tell him or her that I have forgiven him or her and that there is no need to repeat such.
To be honest, I have to give him or her a period of time for proof. Otherwise I will show him or her that I have forgiven though I am more careful this time. In Christianity we got to be frank too. It’s part of being a truth-teller. But the Bible says a brother or sister who remains a heretic after 2 or 3 admonitions, such a one doesn’t need further help unless they change. Those that are fit to work and earn should not be encouraged to be lazy. It is better we help the truly unable, the disadvantaged, the vulnerable, true orphans, true widows, etc. This is just my point of view which can be corrected if found wrong.
Thanks Marty. This is helpful.
How did I miss this? Sorry for failing to respond to both Donita and all my readers. I think your question is one we all have and that we all struggle with. John N. response (below) is helpful. My own response is to pray for direction and wisdom then lovingly and honestly confront. Promise love but not the enablement of evil. Your generosity is for the hurting and the needy not the abusive and fraudulent. It is for the one who knows their need and wants help not for the one who continues in blindness and unrepentance.
1 Peter 2:21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
How many times have I ripped the Lord Jesus Christ off? What right do I have to complain and grumble when someone does the same to me? One of the most powerful testimonies I can offer is to continue to love and serve, even in the face of rejection and revile. But do I follow my Lord’s example and do it? The truth be known–rarely. Your point 5 is exceedingly difficult until the old man is thoroughly dead and I have truly taken up my cross and followed Him.
This is a good example of the struggle I am talking about. It is inconvenient, hard and disappointing when people “rip us off” but that is not the real struggle I am talking about it is the appropriate response. Do I dismiss the wrong or address it? There are examples of both in the Scripture. The passage I happened to read this morning was Nehemiah 9:26-31. No doubt there is not a solid answer. As we are in direct communion with the Lord surely He will direct us in each situation.
I think in many ways you answer your own question with the last sentence. The important thing is to not prejudge or draw lines around who we will not or the situations in which we will not share the gospel. The Spirit will lead us as we go in obedience.