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OPINION - Ask a Christian about their faith

Phil Knox of the Evangelical Alliance encourages people to ask their Christian friends about their faith.

Read time: 4 minutes, 13 seconds

I love friendship. When I think about the times I am at my happiest, it is usually moments when I am surrounded by great people, with whom I am sharing a deep emotional connection, often around a fire, holding a glass of something tasty. When my son returns from school, what frequently makes his day is a connection he has made in the playground. Our friendships matter, and yet, in a world where we have never been more connected, loneliness is on the increase and I meet many people with networks of acquaintances, but few true friends.

We all need a little help when it comes to our relationships.

It is well worth identifying the connectors in your life. When it comes to making friends, these individuals play a really valuable role.

When it comes to connecting with people, we are not all created equal. When I walk into a room full of people I don’t know I nervously scan it for someone I might have met before. When I summon the courage to approach someone and greet them with a handshake, the initial exchange can feel clumsy and awkward. Annoyingly, there are some people who make these situations look effortless. There are some who seem to possess some kind of relational superpower. Not only do these people bear a gift for making friends, they often are catalysts for relationships between others. They make introductions that bring strangers together.

Sociologists call these people connectors. If you think about your current friendship circles and how they started, the chances are that you met a number of those people through one or two connectors. My mate Andy is a connector. His emotional bank account is bursting with relational currency. There are at least ten people I know because Andy introduced us.

It is well worth identifying the connectors in your life. When it comes to making friends, these individuals play a really valuable role.

As well as being passionate about friendship, I’m also a Christian. Knowing Jesus and having an experience of God has changed my life. It’s given me purpose and meaning, a family to belong to, and the feeling that I am alive, loved, and hopeful. My faith means a lot to me.

As a result, I’m keen to share, sensitively and relationally, this important part of my life with my friends, and here is where my two passions collide. It turns out, when you ask Christians about the significant moments on their journey towards faith, friends play the starring role. Recent research tells us that conversations between people who know each other well are crucial in helping non-religious people understand how knowing Jesus can make a difference.

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Christianity OPINION - Ask a Christian about their faith

When it comes to making friends with God, find a connector who you trust, who can make the introduction.

So here is my encouragement to you. If you know someone who is a Christian, and you see it makes a difference to their life, ask them about it. This same research showed that most Christians feel comfortable having a conversation with their non-Christian friends about their faith. They might not have all the answers, but they will probably be able to tell you their story and explain how their faith has changed their life.

They will also probably be delighted to be able to share their story with you. Many Christians feel nervous about sharing something so dear to them, but long for the opportunity to talk about what knowing Jesus means to them. You may find your relationship plumbs new depths and is richer for the experience of opening your hearts to one another in this way. If faith in Jesus is something you want to explore further, your friend is ideally placed to be your connector to him.

If you know someone who is a Christian, and you see it makes a difference to their life, ask them about it.

Christianity is all about relationship. At its heart, it’s about a connection to a relational God who outrageously and surprisingly invites us to be friends with him. You were created to know and be known. The good news of the Christian faith is that, in Jesus, God has opened a way for it to be possible for us to make this connection. The great invitation of the gospel is to accept the offer of friendship of the Great Connector.

Life is too short for merely superficial connections. May we invest our energies into a few deep and meaningful friendships. Amidst conversations about football, holidays and the weather, may we talk about the things that really matter in life. May the world have less lonely people. And may you know that you were made to know the Greatest Connector of them all and he offers his hand of friendship to you.

Phil Knox is part of the team at the Evangelical Alliance and is trying to be a good friend. His book on the subject, The Best of Friends, is published in March 2023.