Friendships with people of different religious backgrounds were not a part of my childhood.
I lived in a town of 2000 people within the ‘Bible Belt’ of the U.S and while it felt like we had a Christian church every few blocks, I only remember having one person in my acquaintance that followed a different faith.
Fast forward to my college years. One of my dear friends there had grown up as a missionary kid in South America. After we having been friends for several months, he shared with me that he was an atheist.
We began having rich, open conversations about our spiritual backgrounds, and I shared about my faith in Jesus.
As a follower of Jesus I feel called to relationship and sharing truth with those of all backgrounds.
Our conversations challenged me to take a greater hold of my beliefs and it also richly built our friendship. As a follower of Jesus, I feel called to building relationships and sharing truth with those of all backgrounds.
In my friendships with those of different faiths, God has taught me the following insights:
1. Get outside of your bubble
Our culture celebrates diversity, but we can still find ourselves living with people like ourselves. It takes a conscious decision to befriend those who come from varying cultures, worldviews, and perspectives to your own.
In Acts 17 we find that Paul did not wait for the Athenians to come to him – he searched them out and began conversations.
Helping with a holiday kids club helped me make a new friend this last year who comes from a different nation, culture, and religion to myself.
Ask God to highlight ways to meet new people such as through a hobby, social group or volunteer opportunities.
2. Seek long-lasting relationships
Openness and trust in relationships are built through time and shared experiences. Such as with my friend in college, we were friends for a few months before we even spoke about the spirituality in our lives.
Simply be consistent and seek genuine care for your friends.
3. Offer prayer and blessing
At times in the past, I’ve felt awkward about asking to pray for my friends when we have come from different religions. Over time I found that most people welcome prayers and blessings for their lives.
Just like me, my friends are navigating their own relationships, work, and purposes. We can easily feel isolated in that but prayer is a significant way to support your friends.
Ask how you can be praying for your friends, and if they are open, follow through with them.
Here’s the challenge to consider: who is God leading you to connect with outside of your bubble?