We love him because he first loved us1 John 4:19
Friendship is more than following someone on Facebook. In our hectic lives, often it can be difficult to find time or energy for forming friendships. That’s bad news, because God created us to thrive on friendship.
Abraham was called the Friend of God. How did that happen? Jesus called Judas, who betrayed him, “friend” when he came to the Garden of Gethsemane with an angry mob who wanted to kill Jesus. How could he do that?
The topic of friendship is addressed widely in scripture. Let’s start by considering a few questions. What does it mean to be a friend? How do we find friends? In short, where do I start?
What is a friend?
A friend is not someone whose profile you liked on Facebook but have never conversed with one-on-one (including email, Skype and messaging). Just because you grab coffee with someone and chat once each month doesn’t mean you’re friends.
Friendship takes two. Plenty of times we sit next to that other parent at our kid’s game and chat. Week by week, they plop down next to us and we share the latest. Then the season ends and we don’t see them again. This person is an acquaintance rather than a friend.
We might only see a person every three years because they live a thousand miles away. When we do, we hug and share the deep things. This person is our friend. We have a connection that goes deeper than a shared hobby or interest. Our emotions are involved.
When a friend calls, we answer. If they hurt, we hurt. Trouble comes their way and we step in to help.
A friend is someone who cares about the real you and wants to see you smile. Jesus says a friend willingly sacrifices – even their life – for a friend (John 15:13).
Friendship starts with you
“A man that hath friends must show himself friendly” Solomon advises in Proverbs 18:24. If you want a friend, be a friend. It might be cliché, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t accurate.
The lady that sings perfect harmony a few benches back. “It would be great to sing a special with her.” Is she a mind reader? No, so you’ll have to approach her.
“I’ve been hearing you during congregational singing and you have a beautiful alto. How do you feel about practicing a song to sing with me?”
Does this mean you’ll be best friends? Probably not. A possibility exists that you will get to sing with her, and that shared time and interest could lead to a friendship.
You’ll never know if you don’t reach out to the person you’d like to be friends with.
Potential friends surround you
Maybe you’re not afraid to reach out to other people, be the first to say hello. Instead, you insist you don’t know anyone who is “friend material.”
Time to open your eyes.
Where you are, there are other people. At basketball practice, you sit next to another parent. Say hello. You already have a built-in topic of discussion.
Maybe you’re a member of the Parent Teacher Organization. The same five people attend every meeting. Reach out. Ask to meet one of them for coffee.
Work, school, church – potential hotbeds of friendship-in-waiting. People come and go in our world. Some of them stop and stay awhile. If you “seem to click” with someone, reach out in friendship.
Three Types of Friendships
Realize there are three different types of friends and not all of them will be your coffee buddy who knows all your deepest secrets. (If you have a spouse, they should be your closest friend outside of the Lord, but that’s a different post altogether).
A mentor friendship is one where you are offering help to another person. We generally think of a mentor as someone older than us. That might not always be true, but they are experienced in an area where you’re seeking guidance. If you are the teacher, you are the mentor. If you’re being taught, you are the mentee, which is the second type of friend.
Mutual friendships are the ones we immediately think of when someone mentions our friends. These are the people who connect with us on a spiritual and emotional level. They “get” us. We know they’ll hug us when we’re hurt and lecture us when we do something ridiculous. There is an equal amount of give and take in a mutual friendship.
Do you have a neighbor? That’s a potential friend. Go to the gym? Friends await.
Church and church groups are the best place to find friends because you automatically know you share the most important bond of all: eternal life in Christ.
**This post was originally written for a different blog and published there on November 18, 2014