We all agree it is important to spend time with God, and it is important to share your story or rather… His story. So, the next and logical step is to spend time with others. There is a different manner in which you spend time with other believers than unbelievers. However, it is important to do both.
The Bible is very clear that we are called to go out into all of the world and make disciples who make disciples, and we cannot do that if we do not talk to those who are unbelievers (Matthew 28:18-20). We must do more than just talking to them, we must also actually spend time with them; similar to how Jesus spent time with those He encountered, like in Luke 19.
Spending time with unbelievers is important, but it is very important for you to pay attention to the people that you choose to surround yourself with on a regular, every day basis (1 Corinthians 15:33). Jesus did send time with unbelievers, but He surrounded Himself with a fellowship of believers: the disciples.
On the flip side, it is extremely important that you spend purposeful and specific time with people who believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:42) and follow His Lordship.(James 4:7)
Gathering together with other believers is a source of hearing the gospel spoken to us. The gospel, as we know, transforms us continually (Romans 1:17). It stirs us up in love and to do good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25). Spending time with other believers gives us a camaraderie or a partnership in life. Alone, we would not be able to bear all the things that come into our lives But together, as God designed, we can bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).
The most wonderful thing about time with other believers, in my opinion, is the correction of behaviors. Proverbs 27:17 says that “iron sharpens iron.” So, in our time spent with each other, the negative behaviors and tendencies will be ironed out, and the God-pleasing behaviors will become strengthened. We together make each other better! Spending time with other believers allows for truly beautiful worship and fellowship with God! None of these things can be done with an unbeliever.
In the student ministry, we take time each year to discuss the people in their lives, how they should interact with them, and why they should interact with them. Our desire is to help them understand the gravity of choosing your friends, not only wisely, but with guidance and direction from God. Statistics show that you are the sum of the five people that you spend the most time with. So if statistics show you the choice matters, how much more does God’s words speak to this (Psalm 1:1-6)?
Take a minute, and think about those five people in your own life. Are those you choose to spend your time with Christians? Do you even know the answer to that question? What kind of influence do they have on your life? When you enter into time spent with unbelievers, how do you conduct yourself? Do you do as they do? Or do you come alongside them showing the love and mercy and gospel of God?