A friend who lives across the country from me has developed a close friendship with a woman who has a lot of problems and admits she is not a Christian. She boasts about her adultery, her drug use, and other things, and says that she has no desire to be a Christian but only attends church because my friend drives her there and it gives her a chance to look for men.
I have tried to express my concern that this woman will drag my friend down and away from God. My friend says her faith is ‘strong enough’ to stand up to this, but she is very involved in this woman’s life and has already participated in some of her sinful behaviors! At what point do we realize we can’t change an unsaved person and let go?
Jesus spent time with sinners to demonstrate God’s love for them, but He never condoned their behavior. Nor did He join them in it. His goal was to bring them to Him, not to join them in their sins. If your perception of this woman is accurate, then your friend is bringing a wolf among the sheep by taking her to church.
Personally, I think it’s a mistake to bring unbelievers into the fellowship with the hope that Christianity will “rub off” on them. Even bringing a “seeker” to Church should only be a part of our discipleship, not the whole thing. Our purpose is not to put people in our pews, it’s to put Jesus in their hearts.
As for developing close friendships with unbelievers, Paul warned against it, saying “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” (2 Cor. 6:14) Remind your friend that the good apples in the barrel don’t ever make the bad one good. The bad one always makes the good ones bad.
If our goal is bringing someone to the Lord, I believe that once we determine he or she does not have a sincere interest in becoming a believer we should back away and put the matter in the Lord’s hands through prayer.