If you knew that you were hurting people, would you stop
or get up and move?
If you knew that you were living exclusively,
would you invite more to your banquet table?
If you knew that your friends were alone
would you step out of the world of you?
If you asked me these questions, I don't know what my answer would be.
I know it's a harsh world. I know it's hard to love others as you love yourself. I DO NOT profess to be perfect or close.
But if you would have asked me a year ago, would I ever have written this with you in mind?
That answer I know. I would have said no.
But now we question everything. What are your grounds for friendship? Do you have criteria? What was our friendship based on? And questioning those you thought loved you unconditionally hurts.
What is a friend? Someone who hangs out with you for a time because it's convenient and fun? Maybe it goes a big deeper than that. Perhaps people become friends because they have a lot in common and they make each other laugh. Maybe those people feel like they can be themselves, flaws and all, with a friend. Vulnerability. Loyalty.
I would hope that among Christians, it's deeper than all of those things. Christian friendship is a bond of brotherhood or sisterhood that should unite us in our struggle against flesh and blood. It's an eternal partnership. It should be a relationship where we can be flawed and confess to one another. Accountability. Strength. Biblical. Romans 12:15, "Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
Are there boundary lines for Christian friendship? Yes. There are times in the Bible were Jesus explains that friends can be cut off. We are to confront a Christian brother if he is living in sin. If he doesn't change, we are instructed to bring another Christian friend to confront him with. If he still doesn't respond, bring him in front of the Church. Only after a triple try and a triple refusal of that friend to live out the will of God should we cut our friendship short. It takes a bold Christian friend to confront this intentionally, and I think it's awesome that we have Biblical mandates that are this bold.
Whether you are a Christian or not, siblings are usually great friends because you're united by flesh and blood. You are family. That's why Jesus' friendship to humanity is described as stronger than even this bond. "there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." And for the first time in my life, this verse means something substantial to me. Some of our friends have left us. Our very closest friends live far away. We feel lonely in the friendship sense for the first time in our very social lives. Praise GOD that he is a friend when we need that. He can be a loving father, but he can also be a best friend. I used to say that Jesus was my friend. But I didn't get it, nor do I think I truly meant it. I didn't get it because I thought I didn't need it. Shame on me for not realizing this sooner!!
But oh nellie. =) When your friends in Christ stop including you in their lives because of a difference in theological beliefs, you need Jesus more than ever. It's a freakin lonely world down here without a loving, forgiving community around you. And this is NOT to say that we don't have wonderful friends who have been with us. Thank you to everyone who has surrounded us in prayer and physically in this dark season of our lives. It's just the idea of being forgotten by old friends. Frienships that we thought ran much deeper.
I would love to say that I never have or never will wrongfully abandon or fail my friends or family. I'm writing this to my selfish self too. I would love to say that I will never cease to be there for people when they most need me. But I can't promise that. I'm asking for forgiveness if I have failed you as a friend or sister in Christ. and I'm deeply sorry if I have ever hurt you the way we are hurting right now.
We are all failures and broken and human. Thank God for redemption.
(and we're getting a dog. I heard they're pretty rockin at the whole friendship thing.)