Recently, I have been thinking about friendship…many aspects of it in fact. Today, I’ll touch on an important one. It gets to the heart of my attitude. What motivates YOU to befriend one person over another? I see two main views overall.
HOW CAN I BENEFIT FROM THIS FRIENDSHIP?
What is in it for me? This is the junior high/high school view that some of us outgrow and others don’t. It is also the natural propensity of our own hearts. Does she make me feel good? Does she like me? Can friendship with her get me ____? Does she fit the image of what I want my friends to be like?
Overall, I’m making a judgement about another person based on external factors. Are they worthy to be my friend. If I am a christian, it is unlikely I would word it that crassly, but isn’t that the thinking, really? I’m deciding, based on one or two exchanges whether I want to be a friend to this person…or write them off.
Doesn’t being a christian mean more in relation to the way we treat people than that? Human beings are created in the image of God. With the Fall, that image was horribly marred for sure, but the fact that we are human and created in His image means that there is something special about humans that should affect our treatment of each other as people, regardless of whether we are believers or not.
HOW CAN SHE BENEFIT FROM THIS FRIENDSHIP or HOW CAN I MINISTER THE LOVE OF CHRIST TO THIS PERSON?
What is in it for her? This is where such questions as How can I encourage her? How can I show her grace/Christ’s love/the kind of acceptance I have found in Christ…? This is certainly a more mature (compared to high school) love. To be able to give this love draws us to our knees for the ability to do it, as well as the strength and courage. We also need to listen more. It is a gift we give our new (and old) friends.
The ability to do this can only come from Christ. Otherwise, it is often manipulation or a more subtle version of the first type. The wonderful thing about a friendship like this, is that often we become closer than the ones that started on the basis of common interests/goals/backgrounds. When I talk about the contrast here, you may not even be aware of how you choose your friends. You may be reaching out to people who are different from you without thinking through the steps.
I didn’t think them through originally. I asked God to bring people across my path. When He did, I was surprised who they were. The first time I reached out intentionally to someone in friendship, I remember how uncomfortable I was. It was very scary. What if they said, “No, I don’t want to meet you for coffee/tea/lunch.” So far, I can’t even remember that happening. I have gotten some hurtful denials of friendship. But I survived…and so will you…by God’s grace!
GOD USES FRIENDSHIPS TO CREATE COMMUNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST…ANOTHER REPRESENTATION OF HIM TO THE WORLD!
In our moves to a variety of churches, many very troubled when we arrived, I learned that the friends He provided for me weren’t always going to be my age, or in a package I might expect…or even want! But they filled a special place at the time where we mutually ministered to each other…even if I was the more “mature” christian. I love how God does that. I can’t think of anyone I have befriended that I haven’t learned from. I truly don’t know all there is to know about living the christian life. (*news flash*) I love how God uses someone with a different perspective than mine to open my eyes to new truth about Him.
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. II Corinthians 5:14-15