This article was originally a personal blog post. Farid has given permission to repost it here in a slightly edited form. I trust it will be a blessing to you. -Jason
Thoughts on Friendship
By Farid Wardan
For some people this might not be that big of an issue, but friendship is one of the things that I think about, work on, and struggle with the most.
I don’t like casually calling every person I’ve spoken to a friend, I do end up using the word friend to apply to more people than I’d like it to, if for no reason other than as a general term used to denote I know someone to some extent. I don’t like the fact that so many people have “friends” that they would forget about almost immediately if they wronged them. I don’t like, in fact I absolutely despise how people justify loads of gossip and harsh rumours about people that have in no way wronged them simply because they aren’t friends anymore. I don’t like the fact that we spend so much time thinking about what to believe and how to act, and not enough time on who to be and how to live. Friendships are often so shallow because of this very reason.
I don’t like people placing limits in their minds on how close friends should be, severely restricting what could otherwise be life-changing relationships to casual get-togethers that are defined more by having fun than they are by being a blessing and encouragement to each other. I don’t like the way we’re conditioned to think by society that scares us men away from each other in the fear that our friendship will be mistaken as something else. Physical contact is all but avoided, words like “I love you” which can mean so much in a friendship are avoided like the plague.
You’re probably reading this and not feeling the same emotion I do about it, perhaps even agreeing with the things that I don’t like, or more accurately hate! For a variety of reasons I’m fanatical about getting my friendships right, maybe I think about it too much, maybe I try too hard, maybe I just set myself up for disappointment by setting high standards but I’ve grown to place this emphasis on the issue.
Love is the most important quality for us as Christians to have. It is a rare Christian that will deny this or make up something they think is more important, but for the most part we know this. “For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (Galatians 5:14)
All the law! That should make you stop and think if nothing else does, the whole law with regard to others fulfilled in the simple command to love our neighbour as ourselves, a command we all know but forget so easily. Just think about the people you hold grudges towards, the people you gossip about, the people you really, really don’t like (that’s for if you’re in denial about hating them). How on earth do we expect to live as Christians, be known as Christians, and be blessed by God as His children when we don’t understand the first thing about the single commandment given to us that sums up all others?
Here’s a short excerpt from a sermon I preached on friendship:
Let’s look at how this friendship of David and Jonathan affected their lives, how did it help David? I’d never noticed this before but studying these verses I realised that Jonathan was the most active one in the friendship, in 1st Samuel chapter 18, a couple of verses after David and Jonathan are first mentioned we read that Jonathan gave David his robe, his clothes and his weapons. Jonathan also saved David’s life by warning him of his father’s intentions to kill him, but what amazed me the most is that Jonathan being Saul’s eldest son was the heir to the throne, his father the king hated David and David was receiving more praise than king Saul but despite all this Jonathan supported David. David was a man after God’s own heart that was an example for kings to come, this man of God would’ve died if it wasn’t for his faithful friend that opposed his own father, the king, to help his friend.
Why on earth do people think so lightly of friendships? Why on earth do Christians think so lightly not only of friendships but any relationship in general? I get frustrated to no end when a guy tells me about a girl he likes, and when asked what she’s like all he can say is “she’s really pretty.” It’s funny, the only difference between my saved and unsaved friends in this case is the terminology they would use to illustrate that characteristic. I’ll be the first to say I’m attracted to good-looking girls, but if that’s all you can see in someone, what kind of a relationship do you think you have ahead of you? How can Christians talk about love that is based more on physical attraction than anything else? We do the same with friendship. We choose our friends based on common interests and the status of the person we’re friends with. We don’t make friendships based on love and we don’t hold onto them because of love. I guess there is no right or wrong way to create a friendship, but if your friendships consist of talking about shared interests and gossip then are you really much of a friend?
I keep asking myself that about my friends. I ask myself almost every day why I have the friends I do. Why I like to spend time with them and what they mean to me. As Christians I firmly believe our close friends should only be believers. The Christian life is a struggle and there isn’t time to waste with friends that will not draw us closer to God. If your close friends are not walking with God and trying to please Him, then excuse my bluntness, but what on earth are you doing with them?
Friendship has nothing to do with people you share interests with. It has to do with caring enough about someone to want only the best for them, to love someone enough to stick with them through whatever happens, to support them no matter how hard they’re struggling, to listen to them no matter how depressing their stories can be, and to be thinking constantly about how to help them grow in Christ and mature into His likeness.
Recently someone I care about suggested to me that I was a bad influence on a particular friend. I protested outwardly but inwardly the thought shook me to the core. I don’t know if it’s a good thing, but the thought of drawing a close friend further from God scared me more than the idea of myself drifting away does! I thought about this a lot, concluding that it wasn’t true but that I should definitely be more careful if I gave someone that impression. I thought some more about whether worrying about a friend is better than worrying about yourself. Isn’t that what love is? Placing others first? Caring more about the well-being of others than your own? If the fear of being a bad influence on my friends will make me seek God more diligently, then so be it!
May we all seek diligently to glorify God in our relationships.
Farid Wardan is Head Admin of givemetruth.net, an interactive Fundamentalist community based in Australia.