Does anyone else find that their close friends – indeed the vast majority of their friends – aren’t Christians? I’ve always felt far more comfortable with non-Christians.
I find that with Christians there’s always something in the way somehow or other; I feel both under pressure to project a version of myself which isn’t the truth, and also that they are feeding me a false image of themselves. My friendships with non-Christians feel far more honest, and so far more real. I can’t help but feel that this is totally the wrong way around, that it should be within the Church that people are free to deal with each other as we are rather than as we feel we ought to be; but it doesn’t seem to work that way. To me, at least. It’s not for want of opportunities; I was brought up in a strongly Christian family, went to the usual round of Christian house parties, my brother and sister both have largely Christian friends.
Of course, there are some pretty painful issues with having a basically non-Christian circle of friends. First and foremost there’s the difficulty of not being able to talk about something that’s the most important part of my life. I’m a very reluctant evangelist; not entirely from fear, either – I have always been very reluctant to trespass into the parts of people’s lives that really matter to them without their invitation. Where invitation and opportunity arise I do, but they don’t very often. Not that I find it any easier talking about Jesus to Christians – not without slipping into some fairly shallow cliches and platitudes, anyway. And then there’s the points at which morals diverge so sharply as to make it very difficult; particularly over relationships.
I don’t know whether it’s a failing of mine or not, but it makes things very difficult. It’s difficult always being a bit of a prude by comparison with your friends, unable to share in many conversations without either appearing a rather judgemental prude or else betraying things you really believe. It’s particularly difficult if you fall for someone who doesn’t share your faith. Yet I rarely feel at ease, relaxed and comfortable, in a group of Christians.
I totally know where you’re coming from. The Christian friends I do have (e.g. here) I just don’t think of a Christians because I think of Christians as people I could never relate to.
I tend to feel more comfortable with non-Christians, too. I agree with what you said about feeling that you have to project an image of yourself that isn’t the truth with Christians. So many Christians disagree with a lot of the things I believe anyway – and some of the things they’ve said to me really annoy me. I’ve been told that I’m being naive and ‘not putting God first’ if I go out with a non-Christian, and I’ve been asked to ‘justify myself’ when I said I don’t think it strictly necessary to go to church every week. I feel the same as you about not wanting to tresspass into parts of peoples’ lives. I believe that one’s relationship with God is a pretty personal thing, and its not right to keep going on at people about it. Another thing I often find in Christians (particularly in the CU group of Christians at my university) is this constant regarding of non-Christians as being completely different – as being hedonists who have hardly any morals and lead totally unfulfilled lives. One of my best friends isn’t a Christian, and she is one of the kindest and most moral people you’d ever hope to meet. And I’m sure we all know non-Christians who are like that. Also, I feel somehow inadequate in the presence of many Christians because they seem to believe that in order to be a ‘proper’ Christian, you have to have had some kind of personal experience of God. To be honest, I have never spoken in tongues, never felt God telling me to do something, nor have I even felt God’s presence, or a deep feeling of peace that some people speak of. Yet I have faith in God, and I don’t believe that my not having had such an experience makes me any less of a Christian. Ok, I know this probably sounds really awful and cynical, but sometimes I feel like Christians are competing with each other, over who’s had more dreams of God, or who’s spoken in tongues more etc. I’m sorry this is so long, but I do agree with what Anon said. I try to put God first in my life – but I don’t think that that means you have to talk all the time about him and your relationship with him. However, perhaps I don’t talk enough about him. I don’t know.
I felt exactly like this at uni. Don’t worry – they’ll all have crises as soon as they get into the real world and the bubble bursts.
Seems to me that you have clearly had a “personal experience of God” – don’t let them convince you you haven’t because you haven’t had the same one as them and all their clones.
As for going out with a non-Christian, well it could make you miserable, but that’s up to you 😉
My friends seem to be a mix of both, though the balance varies a lot from time to time. I think my problem is more that I have had too few close non-Christian friends versus Christian ones, as I have found Christians easier to get to know and to talk to – partly cos of the differences mentioned in the article.
I’m not saying I find all Christians easy to get on with tho. Whether Christians or not, the people I’ve become friends with are the ones I can be myself among, who don’t make me feel I have to put on an image. There are Christians like that out there…
But – this world is full of pressure to make oneself acceptable to others, and a lot of people feel inadequate and worry about not being acceptable, which can lead them to act false and competitive. So it’s not surprising that these people can be found both among Christians and among non-Christians. In fact, I’d expect this kind of person among Christians because they will appreciate the attraction of being accepted by God (and other Christians), and a lot of people need a lot of healing before they can move on from their sense of worthlessness. Christian groups should help them to feel more secure and honest, but unfortunately, they often turn unintentionally into cliques that make people feel they have to conform. As we said on the other discussion of Christian friends, we have the opportunity to try and make a difference!
On the other hand, as I said on the ‘Salt and Light’ page, when I’m with non-Christian friends I find it hard to see how I’m at all distinctive as a Christian. Thank God that we’ve got each other on this website to encourage each other about these difficulties!
I find this too – it stumped me for a fair while in my Christian walk. The closest Christian friendship I have had was where we were totally outside of the church setting. I got together in their lounge room and it was just so authentic … was wonderful and very healing :O) They have moved 2 hours away now unfortunately, and I want to meet other christians, but I don’t know if I can bring myself to go back into the whole church thing again …
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