Last week, while on my way to work, I received a text from a good friend – Matt – which said “Praying for y’all today. Peace and patience and favor.” As I considered Matt’s message, I was reminded of how many people just over the last two or three weeks who have mentioned they are praying for us. People from different cities and walks of life have reached out to us to let us know we are still in their thoughts and prayers. Thinking of those comments in light of Matt’s message, the importance of true friendship was impressed upon me.
But in a day of rampant social media usage, it is easy to forget the true meaning of friendship. We mistake social media as a safety blanket to hide under – a blanket where we display how many friends we have, our best-looking selfies, our trip to the gym, or the number people who liked a photo of our dinner. Empowered to say whatever we want with little repercussions, social media, text messaging, and email makes our “friends” digital and our egos bigger.
Calvin, you are right, true friends are hard to come by. Honest people in real life situations don’t seem to hold their value anymore. Our world makes it easy to slip away into seclusion. We value digital connection over personal investment. This is not normal; this is not what we were created for.
Friendship is more than 140 characters, snarky memes, or “Happy Birthday!” Facebook posts. Friendship is more than a forced smile and a 3-minute conversation in a hallway. Rather, true friendship is when people open themselves up to each other, messy homes and all. It is when people genuinely care for each other, seeking their friends’ good over their own. True friendship is about investing in each other’s lives, even if there are parts with which you disagree. Most importantly, friendship is when people who seek God’s glory can love each other, despite their sins and flaws and shortcomings. Charles Spurgeon has this to say about friendship, “Friendship is one of the sweetest joys of life. Many might have failed beneath the bitterness of their trial had they not found a friend.”
Scripture speaks highly on friendship and the need to help each other:
“This is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.” – Romans 1:12
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, and the sweetness of a friend comes from his earnest counsel.” – Proverbs 27:9
“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 encourage one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:24-25
“Do not be deceived: Bad company ruins good morals.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33
“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” – Proverbs 27:17
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
“A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24
Christian friendship is beautiful and vital. It is more than a casual “hello,” but is a brotherhood, a sisterhood, a family, and a body . . . a body of Christ working together glorifying Him. A Christ-centered friendship always loves, forgives, corrects, rebukes, encourages, prays for, and hopes for each other to be more like Christ. A true friend never allows us to wallow in our sin, but wants to see us redeemed and sanctified. A true friend loves and supports and encourages despite the other’s mistakes and failures. Friendship is like love, it is tough and it is war. It is iron sharpening iron. It is holding each other accountable. True friendship isn’t easily discarded when tough situations arise.
Friendship is when people who seek God’s glory can love each other, despite their sins and flaws and shortcomings.
Which brings me back to Matt. Thinking back over our adoption journey, and especially in the last few months, I am constantly reminded of such friends in my life. Friends who encourage us, who I know love us, and who, in spite of our shortcomings, invest themselves in us. They genuinely ask how we are doing and actually listen to our response. I am very thankful and blessed to have them in my life, and I hope that others can see this type of friendship in me.
Life is hard and we can’t live it alone. But true Christian friendship is more than a casual connection; it is journeying together in life and spurring each other on to be more like Christ and to give Him more glory.
That is infinitely more exciting than being secluded.