Friendship should not be taken for granted

It’s such a wonderful blessing to be able to share and pray with someone you know. It’s an even greater blessing when you trust that person and can call him/her your friend. 

I’ve come to appreciate the importance and value of the word “friend” and the need to use it sparingly. We have lots of acquaintances, but most of us have very few real friends. Being a “friend” makes an impact on the life of someone else, sometimes beyond what simple words can express. A friend is not one you necessarily talk to every day, or spend lots of time with. Rather, a friend is a person who “is there” for you, understands you, listens, accepts, prays, is one you can talk to freely and openly, someone with whom you can be yourself. Sometimes, you may not have talked together for a while, but once you do, it’s as though time and distance were of no consequence. This happened to me recently, when I spoke with a dear friend about some things at school and life. Just spending time together, especially in prayer, was very refreshing and encouraging. 

As I thought of this topic of friendship, I began to get a new appreciation of how precious it is that the Lord Yeshua called us, those who believe in Him, His friends. In John 15:15 Yeshua said “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you”. Isn’t that amazing? As we are His friends, He consented to reveal to us all that He heard from the Father. The Lord Yeshua chose us and appointed us to go and bear fruit so that whatever we ask the Father in His name, He may give us. It is interesting that this passage ends with Him commanding His disciples to love one another. Just as a friend loves at all times, we are to love one another. 

I’ve heard it said that if a person has five true friends in life, that is an incredible blessing. We don’t have many close friends. Sometimes, we feel that there is no one that we can even call a friend. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother, who is near to us and is alway available to us. He will never leave us nor forsake us. We can pray that God would bring us friends, who are friends indeed. He knows what we need and when we need it.

As important as it may be to have a friend, it is equally important to BE a friend to someone who needs a friend. By refreshing others, we are refreshed as well. Sometimes, being a friend requires “tough love”. But, if the love is genuine, God will prune us and enable us to bear much fruit for His glory.

To Clique or Not to Clique

Have you ever felt that what you see on social media isn’t real? If you know how social media works, you know almost everything you see isn’t really the way it is. But that is one side of things. The other side, which I got tired of seeing, is how prideful people are. I originally joined social media to see what friends across the ocean were doing, what was new in their lives, to see photos that were too heavy to send by email, to stay updated with them and with what was going on. As more people were added, I began to see the ugly side of social media. I understand the need to share things with others, to document seasons in life and have online memories to reflect upon later. But at some point, social media stopped being social. It became all about self. Look where “I” was, look at what “I” did, look who “I” was with, look at “my” accomplishments, look at how successful “I” am. Some of these posts also mention God and give Him thanks for what He has done. But, on the whole, when we look at all of them, who really gets the credit? Who really is honored? And what is the purpose of the posting?

Social media is a reflection of real-life attitudes. I never liked social cliques, and liked them even less when I saw them within the believing community. As a teen, finding close friends within the believing community was a challenge, because I always felt like an outsider, never part of a clique. But, by His grace, God always gave me close friends at different times in my life. Looking at people today, sadly I see these cliques continuing. Those “inside” often don’t see themselves as part of a clique, but that doesn’t change the reality. It’s great to spend time with friends and not to have to spend time with people who don’t make a positive impact on our lives. But sensitivity to others is diminished. Demonstrating love to others has faded. Most of us have experienced what it is like to be talking with someone, only to be interrupted by a third person who comes along, says “hello” and is warm towards the person I am talking to, but ignores me completely. Such behavior is not only rude and causes hurt. It demonstrates an unloving attitude towards the person now being left out of the picture. We can expect this from “the world”, but it is grievous when it is done within the Believing community. I wrote a few years ago in this post “When pride kicks in” how I felt that this type of behavior results from the failure, or refusal, to see others as beneficial to them, so they don’t see a reason to be kind or warm to them. Not everyone agreed with that, and I’m sure that some will not agree with what I say here. But, that is OK. The questions we need to consider then, are: Why do people behave like that? Why ignore one and be warm to another? Why invite all except for one?

I am not saying that we need to be close with everyone. That goes contrary to human nature. I am not close with everyone in my congregation, but I make the effort and try to be warm and kind to others, even those I don’t know. I don’t always succeed at that. Still, knowing what it is like to be left on the “outside”, I try to welcome those who are new or alone in the fellowship. Social media only reflects what we see in reality, the pride of life, calling others to pay attention to the citadel of self. I do have an Instagram account, as you may have seen on this blog, but it is a business account, not personal. I believe that if there is something important for me to share with others, I will do so with people I can truly call “friends”. Not social media friends. It’s not wrong to share things on social media. But when we do share, we need to ask ourselves why we want to share what we share.

I want to encourage us all to keep our eyes and hearts open to people around us, especially those in the faith. Let us pray that we can genuinely show sensitivity to others, to act as Messiah would act, to think as He would think, to speak as He would speak. Loving my neighbor as myself can only be done from the inside out. I know that I am not there yet, but I press on, knowing that the work He began in me will be brought to completion. A handful of the followers of the Lord Yeshua turned the then-known world upside down – all without computers and smart phones. Their “social media” was their testimony about the Lord. What is ours?