At Work & Theology 101

Why Is It so Important to Befriend and Build Relationships with Non-Believers at Work?

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Editor’s note: Today we introduce Jessica Schaeffer, the newest guest contributor to IFWE’s blog. She is a recent graduate of Colorado Christian University and will begin her Masters in Theology at Denver Seminary this Fall. She will blog periodically about faith, work, theology, and culture. 

I recently began working for a faith-based organization after a stint working at Starbucks. I also recently graduated from a Christian college and will soon begin my Master’s in Theology at Denver Seminary.

With work, school, and church taking up a majority of my time, I have been, am, and will continue to be surrounded by believers for most of my waking hours all week long.

Once I left Starbucks, where I was constantly surrounded by non-believers, my mentor asked me what I was going to do in order to intentionally put myself in contact with those in need of Christ. A very important question.

For many, being surrounded by a plethora of non-believers each and every day is quite ordinary. For others, such as pastors, worship leaders, and those working at faith-based non-profit organizations, this occurrence may not be as regular.

Regardless of how often we are in the vicinity of those who need Christ, it is imperative that we as believers make intentional efforts to befriend non-believers.

Scripture on Befriending Non-Believers

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus refers to his followers as “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14). He continues his analogy by explaining that such light should not be hidden – people do not “light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand” (Matthew 5: 15).

He continues,

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

If we go about life each day without letting our light shine, our Father in heaven will not receive glory from those around us.

Let’s expand this to address the concept of befriending. For certainly we can let our light shine through our actions all day long, but at some point speaking words and making genuine connections with others becomes necessary.

In Romans 10, Paul talks about the necessity of preaching the gospel:

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?…So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:14, 17).

Most people in the developed world have heard the name of Jesus Christ, but few truly understand the power of that name – few have heard the true gospel. How then, if we don’t speak, are they to hear the word of Christ?

And what better way to speak the word of Christ than from a foundation of friendship? (This is not to assume that you must know a person extremely well before sharing Jesus with them, but simply recognizing the sheer impact of authentic relationship in bringing others to faith in Christ).

Inspiration for Befriending Non-Believers

Need a little inspiration? Here are some ideas of where you can begin to befriend non-believers right where you are:

  • Workplace  Subordinates, superiors, team members, even clients, customers, and service providers.
  • Neighbors  These people probably see and hear more than we think. Whether you’re in a subdivision or an apartment building, prioritize making connections with those living right in your area.
  • Coffee shops  Baristas, managers, and “regulars.” Get to know names, tip well, smile, and ask how folks are doing (and mean it). Be ready to enter into deep conversations if they open up.
  • Other local businesses  Wherever you frequent, be known for the light you shine and make the workers feel known.
  • The gym  See the same few guys or gals working out each morning or afternoon? Start up some conversations, showing genuine interest in their lives.
  • Mediated connections  Keep in touch with non-believers you already know, but don’t see frequently. High school and college friends, former coworkers, and extended family members. Become a consistent ray of light for these people.

Let my mentor’s question be addressed also to you. How will you intentionally be in contact with non-believers? Pray about whom you should begin to befriend and start sharing the light of Christ through your actions and words.

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