How to Tell Old Friends about Your New Life
1250 words, read time: approximately 4-5 minutes.
My co-worker Amiri came to me for counsel and guidance in his new walk with God. “I don’t feel I can play in my band anymore because it compromises my relationship with Christ. How can I tell my band member about my new faith and convictions without turning him off from knowing God for himself?”
I admired the humility Amiri displayed in seeking counsel and was happy to advise him from the Scriptures as well as my own past experiences. When I came to Christ at the age of 22, the majority of my friendships were with non-Christians. Although my intentions were genuine, I made many blunders in sharing my faith with them. God had now graciously given me an opportunity to share those experiences with Amiri to help him avoid the same mistakes I myself had made.
Here are some of the ways I encouraged Amiri to share his new life in Christ with his old-time friend and band mate and how the conversation played out between them.
After my conversion to Christ I shared my faith with everyone I knew and practically anyone else who crossed my path. Although I have no regrets about sharing my faith and testifying about the Lord’s work in my life, I do regret not operating in greater humility in many of my conversations. I can remember one of my friends saying to me, “I feel like you’re preaching at me, not talking to me.”
I first advised Amiri to demonstrate complete humility in his approach and conversation. “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth.” (2 Timothy 2:24-25 NKJV)
Through this advice, the Holy Spirit impressed upon Amiri to share with his band member his own faults in their relationship and places where he failed to demonstrate Christian character. In his fear of approaching the topic of faith with his band member, Amiri had recently become irresponsible, frequently failing to return band related phone calls and follow through on commitments he had made. He began the conversation by acknowledging his failure at being a consistent friend and band mate.
By opening his conversation with the confession of his faults, Amiri’s band member’s guard was dropped and he was able to receive what was being explained to him without feeling the need to be on the defensive.
Sharing Our Story
After my conversion, I began to share Christ with zeal and passion. In my excitement I often caught friends and family off-guard with my sudden appeals to embrace Jesus. I had expected a quick and positive response from others – forgetting how God had led me through a series of events and brought multiple people into my life over a span of several years. In retrospect, I would have shared the story of my coming to faith more as a journey in time, with the climax of salvation, to help others better understand how God had begun working in my life and the commitment required in deciding to follow Christ wholeheartedly. (Luke 14:26-33)
We do not need to know every intellectual argument to defend the faith or be able to answer every question asked of us, but we do need to be prepared to share our personal story of how God has worked in our own life. My advice to Amiri was to clearly explain to his band member the process in which God led him to place his faith in Christ as Lord.
“but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (1 Peter 3:15-16)
Amiri shared his experience of coming to Christ and how his life was being changed. He kept the message uncomplicated by using simple language his friend could easily understand. “God asked me to choose who to follow and I am choosing Him.”
Defining New Boundaries
Shortly after coming to Christ, I met my soon-to-be wife. When my college friends decided to throw me a bachelor party, I made some stipulations. I agreed to attend the benign activities, like watching a professional basketball game together, but made it clear that I wasn’t interested in the nighttime carousing they had planned out.
Although my decision was a wise one, I failed to first express my appreciation for their willingness to organize and coordinate the events they had planned, knowing they were making a genuine attempt to accommodate my new faith. I instead only focused on those events that I would not participate in with them. This caused great hurt and pain.
Amiri faced a similar predicament. His band member had been a good friend to him over the years and Amiri wanted to express his gratitude for the friendship bestowed upon him. At the same time, he needed to clarify how their relationship would need to change based on his new found faith and convictions.
My advice to Amiri was to use the “sandwich approach” in his conversation. A sandwich typically has bread, meat and more bread. Using this analogy, I advised Amiri to approach this difficult conversation with grace, truth and more grace.
Amiri acknowledged the value and richness of the relationship he shared with his band mate. Over the past three years, they had spent hours together writing music and performing, experiences that required time, commitment and emotional investment. He then approached the more difficult topic of his new convictions and the implications those life choices would have on their friendship. He explained that he could no longer live a double life. Finally, he reiterated his appreciation for their friendship and offered to continue their relationship in light of his new lifestyle as a Christian.
Shortly after becoming a Christian, some friends of mine chose to distance themselves from me. Their rejection was painful and I often questioned whether it was my approach in sharing my faith or their disagreement with my new beliefs that made them choose to part ways. I forewarned Amiri that no matter how eloquently or awkwardly he explained his faith, setting new boundaries and choosing to follow Christ, would make him vulnerable to ridicule and even rejection. (1 Peter 4:3-4)
Amiri’s conversation with his band member became tense and uneasy at times. His friend sought solutions to save the band. “What if beer drinking were eliminated from rehearsals?” (This was a significant concession given the band’s history.) Amiri went into the conversation prepared to clearly delineate the areas of his life that would need to change. He confessed his own weaknesses and firm commitment to live differently.
Amiri was able to successfully share his faith without having to forfeit his relationship with his friend or compromise his walk with God. Amiri is still in contact with his band mate who continues to play music under the band’s name. Amiri prays that God will use him to draw his friend to Himself. His hope is that one day they will even play together again, sharing the Gospel through music under the banner of the Lord.