What Does Being a Friend Really Mean?

464.

That’s how many friends that Facebook would tell you that I have. I do know all of those people. Or at least most of them. I’d probably even approach more than half of them if I saw them on the street. Still, it’s a little bit awkward to see that number and wonder how many of those people I’ve talked to within even the past few months. Whatever that number actually is, it is higher than what it would’ve been before the start of the year. I’ve intentionally reached out to a few people every other week or so in an attempt to invest in souls around me. It has proven to be a good thing. I think I’ve got more out of the act than anyone who I’ve contacted. But does that make us closer? Friends at all? What does it mean to be a real friend? What does that take?

In my decade plus since high school (it’s really been that long?) I’ve certainly made several new friends. But the amount of people I no longer hang out with is a much larger number. I’ve been learning what it is that I need most in a friend. I’ve been learning the ways I lack. My interests have changed. But I don’t mourn the lessened quantity but celebrate the quality of the friendships that God has graced me with. And I’m grateful for a better perspective on how I should improve my friendship skills.

I’m a big fan of Gary Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages. It’s a book that opened my eyes quite a bit both on how I loved and how I accepted it. I feel like I’m better at assuming love when someone close interacts with me in a way that doesn’t natively speak it to me. I love that the book is intended for many kinds of relationships and it’s helped me to realize that words of affirmation mean a great deal to me. For me, this is especially true in a romantic relationship. When it comes other friendships, I feel like being intentional is still important. Investing quality time is the expression I believe is the bedrock for most of these bonds. There are other ways to love on those close, but it’s impossible to initiate those methods without first spending time together.

Of course, it’s more than that. I loved the tweet I saw recently from pastor Sammy Rhodes, “True friends say hard things in gentle ways”. Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” I find it frustrating how often I hear people talk about backing their friend no matter what path they choose. I think there’s a pretty distinct difference between being loving and accepting. I’m thankful for a friend that can help me see when I’m in the wrong. A real friendship will involve conflict. Healthy relationships are the ones that don’t seek to avoid conflict but to navigate towards a resolution respecting both individuals. Our human relationships help sharpen us for divine responsibilities. Seeing another as a soul loved by a great God makes it easier to see where we can forgive, encourage, and work with them.

The bible has a lot more to say on what it means to be a friend. Equipped with this, we can see who it is in life we should invest in as our true friends.

  • 1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
  • John 15:12-14 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
  • Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing
  • Proverbs 17:17 A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
  • 1 Peter 4:8-10 Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace
  • Hebrews 10:24-25 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

It even addresses what to avoid while looking for friends like in 1 Corinthians 15:33 and in Proverbs 22:24-27. It makes it pretty clear that we can fall into the same kind of destructive habits of those closest to us. Which we can reasonably assume that spending time with life giving people will encourage us into being life giving people. The word that keeps coming to mind as I read over these verses is service. I feel that one of the biggest parts of love is serving. Consistently building up, forgiving, encouraging, working together, rebuking, and walking in line with. God calls us to the kind of love that is intentional. Without consistently taking steps to be a voice of love in another’s life, even when that means being tough,  we’re losing out on the chance to be a true friend. Thank God for the true friends in my life.

What Am I Looking For?

At bible study last Thursday, my pastor asked me about the passage that we’d been reading. In John 1, Andrew and another disciple were with John as Jesus walked past them and John proclaimed Him to be the Lamb of God. The two immediately followed Jesus and He then turned to ask them what they were seeking. This was the question that my pastor asked me.  What was I seeking? I wasn’t able to answer the question. I wasn’t sure what I was even being asked at first. Continue reading “What Am I Looking For?”

Church Launch Prayer

  There has been a prayer that’s been on my heart lately as my church approaches its official launch date as Christway on September 14th.  There have been a lot of things I’m hoping for as the date approaches.  But one prayer more than anything else.  I hope we as a local church body don’t get in the way. That people don’t see us working against each other but caring for each other with a God given love.  That we work together fluidly so that visitors don’t see the systems at work but are impacted with a fresh welcome.

John 13:34-35 from the ESV says,

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

    This really impacted me the first time I read it during bible study.  At first I was thinking about how easy it would be love those closest to us.  Afterall, our neighbors don’t have any ties for us to cling to.  But I think about how the better you know someone, the more chance they have to push your buttons.  You learn their quirks and faults.  And you don’t just see them a little bit.  Disagreements rise up.  Just like a family.  But like a family that loves well, we can put on display the love shown to us by our Father.  This is what I’m praying for.

Loss of momentum

  I haven’t been very good about writing here lately. I’ve taken turns seeing if there any words within me worth putting down, deciding I wasn’t good enough to write them well, and fighting with myself on what my voice even was. Who am I to be read or listened to? Where do I have authority and how should I use my words? I haven’t been consistently seeking God recently. I have been pretty good about asking others around me about their walk. Maybe I feel a little more spiritual that way as I don’t really inquire where it is God is leading me to.  I haven’t been vocal about this, it’s a little easier to put down here. 

 

  I prayed yesterday about hoping to live each day with a Godly purpose.  And it was something I meant.  But way too often lately I have quickly made my own decision on where it is I should be heading instead of really leaning into what God desires from me in the current situation.  Don’t get me wrong, I earnestly ask for His will.  But I too often have been going with the path that felt right.  And I really don’t want to be so emotionally led.  Who I’m writing to right now, I’m not even sure.  Maybe throwing these words down in a place that I visit often will give me a reminder.  A reminder to live with patience.  To not seek my own will in things.  To love others in a way that doesn’t require anything back.