Christian Friends

A few months ago I was distraught over moving and not having a “tribe“. That infamous group of people everyone raves about, elusive always to myself because let’s face it, I am a homebody and I like it.

I found myself bringing up this self-diagnosed lack to everyone as the MOVE grew closer. My “people” are in fact my family – the very group I was leaving. And it was one member of my family that taught me a very powerful lesson that is still transforming my worldview months later.

My little brother Daniel is very wise. Talking to him is like a refreshing wind after a long day in the sun. He’s a gifted thinker, that’s all there is to it. One evening after a wedding I was lamenting once again about my lack of easily making heart-connected-friends. After I was finished with the long diatribe that I was by now well-versed in, Dan just says, “You already have people.” He then goes on to remind me that I have THREE very VITAL people – Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit – the only tribe anyone would ever need.

I. Was. Free.

After that night I never once felt anxious over this alleged lack in my life. Now I filter things through a hugely different perspective. I see Jesus’ life in a whole new light: surrounded by people, friends with few, but not truly understood by anyone. Betrayed. Assaulted. Misunderstood. Doubted. Not to mention mocked, tortured, and killed. He was in a way isolated because of his calling, yet not lacking anything. Full of love and identity from the Father, he was able to accomplish the goal because his FATHER was with him.

His mission on earth was bigger than having a “core group” just for the sake of friendship, this core group was incredibly vital to fulfilling the plan of God for all the earth. My sister preached one time and a sentence she said is forever lurking in the back of my mind, “Jesus lived every day for OTHER PEOPLE.” Not one day was lived selfishly. Each day of Jesus’ life was about others.

Even his friendships were unselfish.

Are you like I was feeling this weird struggle for people (maybe even because you think you’re supposed to have them)? Or are you on the opposite end of the spectrum, and you’re so dependent on your people that if they aren’t there for you, you’re emotionally affected?

Neither are healthy.

Let’s approach friendship the way Jesus did: unselfish. I am friends with you not for what you can offer me, but for how I can love you into your destiny. Your lack of acceptance, love, support, or encouragement do not change the way I feel about you or how I feel about myself. Just as your acceptance, love, support, and encouragement do not replace God’s love towards me, they just affirm what I already know and spur me on.

This amazing quote by German martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer drives home my heart on this:

“The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. In the end all of His disciples abandoned Him. On the cross He was all alone surrounded by criminals and the jeering crowds. He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies of God. So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work.”

Let us realize the goal is to not barricade ourselves in the comfort of friendship. Our goal is to bring light into darkness, and sometimes, even the best of our friends has not the courage to do so. So we love all selflessly and are obedient to Christ. And there, and only there, will we find the tribe we seek.

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