Our Life Together: Friendship
by Pastor Aaron Adame
On our blog, we want to feature certain articles that relate to our life together as a church family. These can feature topics that start by looking at real-life issues and what the Bible has to say. As well as considering the Bible’s teachings and how they practically relate to our life as a church or individual Christian. We hope you find these informative, inspirational, and instructive.
When you are a kid, you think a lot about friendships. In fact, when you are a teenager, it seems that all you want to do is hang out with your friends. But as you get older, and spare time gets more and more scarce due to family obligations, you may find that maintaining those friendships is difficult.
You might find this surprising, but the Bible actually has a lot to say about the topic of friendships. The relationship that David had with Saul’s son Jonathan stands out as a beautiful picture of friendship (2 Samuel 18). Even Jesus, when He called His disciples, didn’t just call them disciples, but called them friends (John 15:15). In the book of Proverbs, we read a lot about friendship. Chapter eighteen says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24 ESV). Since the genre of Proverbs is considered wisdom literature, it has much to say about the importance of friendships that encourage godly faith and actions. It also spends a great deal of time discussing the folly of having unhealthy friendships—“Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare” (22:24-25 ESV). With this said—and due to the importance of such a topic on our spiritual growth as believers—I want to briefly talk about some categories of friendships. As we all know, not every friendship is the same; this is a good thing—I will show you why with these categories.
Most friendships have been built around the category of occasional friendships. What I mean by this is that the occasion dictates the nature of that friendship. For instance, I have friends who like to play golf, and I have friends who don’t. When I go play golf, I call up the guys who like to play—and we have a great time together. I have friends who like to watch football—I can’t stand watching football. I take no offense when they don’t call me to come over and watch the game. I actually find it quite friendly to not ask me to do something I don’t enjoy. You get my point! The beautiful feature of occasional friendships is that they are built on common interests. The hard part is that you may go long stretches of time not seeing each other. But when you do, you usually pick right back up where you started.
Sometimes, God brings people in your life for a certain season. I have had several friendships in this category. People that God used in my life in significant ways in a particular season to shape me more into the image of Christ—and He used me in their life as well. Oftentimes, God will bring someone to you in a difficult season of life. The downside of seasonal friendships is when they suddenly come to an end. We struggle because we want that season to continue on. However, life changes, and so do these seasonal friendships. So, find joy in what was gained and not what was lost when that season ends.
It says this in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” Consider yourself blessed if you have this category of friendship, as it is the most unique. I marvel when I run into someone much older than me, sitting in a coffee shop with a friend, and hearing that they have known each other since grade school. What an incredible blessing those friendships are. To have friendships that go deeper than blood relatives is a gift from above. The cool thing is, whatever relationship you have with someone in Christ, ultimately, they are perpetual, in that we will spend eternity with them in heaven.
One final category (yet there are several more) is mission-minded friendships. We are to be wise not to walk, stand, or sit with mockers and scoffers (Psalm 1) as followers of Christ, if we are to avoid being led astray. However, we should not hesitate to make friends with non-Christians in order to win them to Christ.
Jesus didn’t come into the world to make friends; He came to make disciples!
However, those disciples became His friends. When we make disciples, we do so in the context of friendship. However, we should be careful to make friends with unbelievers without the ultimate desire to see them come to faith in Jesus because as 1 Corinthians 15:33 warns, “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”
Understand though, many times they will want to put you in the proverbial “friend-zone.” Meaning they don’t see you as having anything more to offer them than a friendship. But again, we want to make disciples of Christ, not just friends. Understanding, of course, that salvation is a work of God, yet He works through our evangelistic efforts. Do you have any mission-minded friendships in your life? People you are becoming friends with so that they may see Christ in you and hear of Christ from you?
I will end with another Proverb on friendship:
“Oil and perfume make the heart glad, so a man’s counsel is sweet to his friend. Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend, and do not go to your brother’s house in the day of your calamity; better is a friend who is near than a brother far away” (Proverbs 27:9-10 ESV)