Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
The Word of God tells us that if we are in Christ, we are a new creation and the old things have passed away. In regards to the subject at hand here, we are called to be set apart from the world, separated unto Christ as we live for Him daily. For starters, being separate from the world does not mean we are so separated that we ignore those around us. And it surely does not mean we are to be insensitive to the spiritual, emotional, and physical needs of those we come in contact with. Finally, there is no Scripture stating that we cannot have friends who are nonbelievers. If we are completely isolated from the world with no contact with them, then how will we ever reach them for Christ?
In reaching the world for Jesus, we also must consider that the phrase, “Jesus went out to the world and hung out with them", has to be taken in context with the Scriptures. It is true He spent time with nonbelievers; however, it is important to realize that in doing so He never engaged in sinful activities to reach them. He never compromised His faith or testimony to reach the lost. He lived a life of purity that spoke the message of grace and hope just as clear as the words He vocalized. Sometimes, "I'm preaching the Gospel" is used as nothing more than an excuse to engage in sinful activities along with the world usually with disastrous results. I'll admit that I used that very excuse when I took a blind leap into the world's arms as a young, immature Christian and I wound up stomping on the Gospel instead of preaching it.
While there is nothing wrong with having nonbeliever friends, we must be careful of the influence we allow the world to have on us. Proverbs 13:20 is clear on this by instructing us that: "He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will be destroyed." This verse is not saying not to be friends with nonbelievers, but it is warning us of allowing the world and its ways to have a controlling influence in our lives. A companion is an individual who goes along with us in life, bringing much needed guidance and accountability to our lives. Spiritually speaking, it is impossible for an unbeliever to have the kind of influence in our walk with the Lord that will bring us closer to Him. The Scriptures testify that light cannot have fellowship with darkness. The Scriptures also tell us not to be unequally yoked with unbelievers. Imagine being on a boat in the middle of a lake. For the sake of argument, let's say you are hand cuffed to a friend who is in turn handcuffed to a heavy anchor. When the anchor is dropped, it will drag both of you down into the depths. I must reiterate that this is not telling us not to be friends with nonbelievers, as shunning them will never lead them to Christ. However, we must not allow ourselves to be connected in a manner with a nonbeliever that will negatively affect our walk with the Lord. Scripture does not forbid friendship with nonbelievers but it does stress the fact there must be Biblical boundaries set in place to prevent falling into living like the world. In my own personal life, I learned this lesson rather painfully. I also learned the hard way that just because I am a believer in Jesus Christ, it doesn't mean Satan ceases to tempt me with forbidden fruit. In fact, he will try his best to sell all believers in Christ bushels of fruit that is sweet the first couple of bites but in reality has a rotten, worm infested core that poisons a believer's testimony. I know firsthand because I have foolishly consumed several bushels of that fruit and have paid a horrible price. Living in sin tarnishes a witness for Christ, rendering it ineffective, and setting Biblical boundaries is a must if we are live in this fallen world and reach the lost for Christ.
In closing, if you have never accepted Christ as Savior, I want to let you know He took all sins past, present and future upon Himself and died on the cross in our place thus securing Salvation for all of us. He rose on the third day and this living Savior who shed His blood for you, wants to have a relationship with you. I invite you to accept Him today and seek out a Christ centered church that teaches sound Biblical doctrine to grow in your new relationship with the Lord. If you are a believer who has gone astray, know there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. You may have walked a thousand steps away but it is only one step back. I know, I have been in your shoes. Turn back to Christ and give your life over to Him. Whatever decision you need to make for Christ, I pray that you will trust Jesus and I can testify that you will be eternally grateful you did.